China and constructivism

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


International Studies

First Committee Member

Vendulka Kubalkova - Committee Chair


Constructivism is one of the three main approaches to International Relations (IR) in the United States. Its "soft" version represented by Alexander Wendt has been enthusiastically welcomed in China, a latecomer to both the contemporary international system and to International Studies as an academic field (IR discipline was not constituted in China until the early 1980s). This dissertation represents the first attempt at introducing to Chinese International Studies community the rule-oriented constructivism, the original form of constructivism as introduced by Nicholas Onuf in 1989. The twin tasks of this dissertation, namely introducing this form of constructivism to China as possibly a new intellectual tool for Chinese IR studies and introducing China to American rule-oriented constructivists, are both extremely difficult because of the tremendous differences between language and culture of China and the Western countries. Rule-oriented constructivism will enable the Chinese "voice" to be heard and understood for the first time. At the same time, to deal with China (its language and culture) also challenges many key propositions of rule-oriented constructivism. In both scenarios it is necessary to "take a linguistic turn" in a language such as Chinese, which has been developing for millennia in separation from the Indo-European languages and Western civilization for which---and with disregard to Chinese characteristics---the Western rule-oriented constructivism has been devised. Thus this dissertation has to make excursion and side trips not only into IR studies both in the West and in China, into constructivism in the United States and the first indigenous harbingers of constructivism in China, but also into the philosophical precursors of the rule-oriented constructivism, Chinese linguistics, Chinese culture, and Chinese and American linguistic philosophy.The findings of this dissertation, I hope, will smooth the passage of the rule-oriented constructivism to China, introduce modifications to the Western rule-oriented constructivism, and finally, be of direct foreign policy relevance for they throw new light on how Chinese speak, act and think.


Political Science, International Law and Relations

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