Foundations of Constructivist Theory of ‎International Political Economy

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Professor, Faculty of Economy & Political Science, University of Shahid ‎Beheshti, Tehran, Iran. ‎

2 A PhD Candidate, Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Shahid ‎Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran‎



Politics and economics are closely related, politics decisively affects the fate of the world economy, and economics has far-reaching consequences for international and global politics. The complexity of the interactions of economics and politics has formed the academic discipline of international political economy (IPE) with its flexible boundaries. Liberalism, realism, and Marxism have been the three dominant and traditional approaches to the study of international political economy. In an analogous way to the studies of international relations, the field of IPE has undergone theoretical diversity since the 1990s. At present, markets have become globalized, and cooperation or conflict of interests is one of the obvious realities of political economy. Therefore, theory building and hypothesis testing in international political economy—examining the relationship between governments and the markets—has also gone beyond the conventional theories. Thus, theories such as constructivism, postmodernism, criticism, feminism, and environmentalism have been taken into consideration. Of these, constructivism as a new intellectual endeavor has attracted a great deal of attention in the research on the global political economy. In this paper, the two research questions are as follows: 1. What are the foundations of the constructivist theory of international political economy? 2. To what extent is constructivism relevant to the study of international political economy? Using an analytical-explanatory approach, various research findings of the prior works have been examined to identify propositions and important themes. To get insight into the constructivists’ perspectives, we compare and explain different constructivist arguments about the need to apply their theoretical approaches to the field of IPE. Then, an attempt has been made to answer the research questions by analyzing and inferring from the qualitative data taken from these texts. In the research hypothesis, it is postulated that relying solely on economic or political analyses without considering the interaction of politics and economics leads to the inability to fully understand the dynamics of the international political and economic order. Given the diversity of the objectives of the stakeholders in the political economy, the multiplicity and ambiguity of their preferences and strategies, as well as the uncertainties of the outcome of the actions of the competing state and non-state actors have increasingly made the researchers’ goals of explaining and predicting international political and economic processes and outcomes more difficult. Constructivism is an approach which attempts to understand "the dynamic roles played by ideas, norms, values and identities in political processes and outcomes", and provides a viable theoretical framework for analyzing issues in international political economy (i.e., the nature of conflict and cooperation in the areas of trade, finance, defense, development), and explaining the interaction between political and economic forces at international level.


Main Subjects

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