The Construction of Self and Other: A Conceptual Framework
This chapter discusses the basic principles of constructivism in International Relations (IR) and European Studies. It explores how the identities are constructed, and how they are interlinked with alterity in IR. The chapter argues that the elite discourses take place in and are observed by the various public spheres; thus collective identities and public spheres are connected in that they provide communicative space where identities are constructed and reified. Insights from social psychology, particularly social identity, and self-categorisation theories, can shed light on how collective identities are formed. Constructivism is relevant to the study of identities in two ways. Firstly, as has already been pointed out, social identities are useful in explaining the interests of actors. Second, constructivism is itself directly relevant to the study of identities as social constructions. The construction of the other as threatening may be better understood by examining the Copenhagen School's concept of securitisation.