Social construction and integration

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Series Details Vol.6, No.4, December 1999, p545-560
Publication Date December 1999
ISSN 1350-1763
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Social construction, which has made key contributions to contemporary international relations (IR) and institutional theorizing, has yet to make significant in-roads among scholars of integration. This is unfortunate, for it has privileged methodological individualism in the study of European institutions - either in its strict (rational choice institutionalism) or more loose (historical institutionalist) versions. As a result, too much debate has focused on which institutions matter in the integration process, and not on how they have effects. This article examines the latter, arguing that a sociological and social constructivist understanding of institutions as constitutive can significantly broaden the methodological tools we bring to the study of integration; it will also help us to explore how, or, indeed, whether, integration is affecting fundamental actor identities, and not simply constraining strategy or behaviour.

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