Rethinking Realism and Constructivism Through the Lenses of Themes and Ontological Primacy

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Abstract

If integrative pluralism in international relations theorising is the way forward, how can we still maintain some type of demarcation between pre-existing paradigms in order to not throw the baby out with the bath water? The notions of themes and ontological primacy provide a useful intervention in this regard. They both link realism and constructivism yet at the same time differentiate between the two enough to allow for the original free-standing paradigm to maintain its veracity and usefulness as an explanatory tool to explain the international order. This article promotes the idea that realism and constructivism engage with many similar themes; it is their ontologies and methodologies that are the key points of departure and are worth being further explored. The article concludes that taking the notion of ontological primacy seriously allows for much needed theoretical pluralism, while effectively maintaining the foundational moorings of longstanding international relations theories.

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