Book outline, Legro, Rethinking the World – Change

SAASS Purpose: Understanding how ideas are channeled and the constitutive roles they might play is the focus of this session. Constructivism’s strong claims regarding ideas, interests, and change—the constitutive effects argument—rests upon it. 

My Summary (after seminar): Dolman did have much for him, This theory is focused on the role of ideas, big ideas, on major foreign policy changes, top down ideas role in change.

Stage 1: What is the book about?

1.     'Classify the book according to kind and subject matter

a.     'Author bio and bias

b.     2005, Cornell University

2.     'State the unity of the whole book in a single (at most a few) sentences

a.     Basic formula for change is Old ideas – Shock – Collapse – Consolidation – New ideas.

3.     'Enumerate its major parts in order and relation

4.     Define the problem(s) the author is trying to solve

a.     Gain insight into the general determinants of the foreign policy concepts of various nation-states by unraveling the general sources of foreign policy conceptual changes we may also see new possibilities for future diplomacy and social action. 4

b.     Explain why stats have (or have not) made notable conceptual moves away from their existing integrationist-separatist-revisionist ideas. 11

Stage 2: Rules for interpreting the content

5.     'Locate/construct the basic argument (by finding them in the connection of sentences)

a.     'Thesis:

                                               i.     We start where we want to end – with ideas. New foreign policy ideas are shaped by preexisting dominant ideas and their relationship to experienced events, sometimes reinforcing the continuity of concepts and infrequently leading to their radical change. 4

b.     'Major Assumptions:

                                               i.     Power does not determine ideas nor do power transitions among states inevitably lead to conflict. 3

                                             ii.     Something more than ideas must be involved in major foreign policy transformations 13

c.     'Identify unstated assumptions (added, not from book):


d.     'Major Propositions:

                                               i.     Nations have a unique notion of themselves in the larger IO: Integration – by joining; Separation – remaining outside of; and Revisionism – overturning the extant international society. 9

                                             ii.     Collective ideas fundamentally shape their own continuity or transformation

1.     By setting the terms and conditions of when change is appropriate

2.     Constituting the most likely option(s) for the new orthodoxy.

3.     Ideas are not solely sufficient for change (me) from assumptions

                                            iii.     Understanding how ideas interact with other factors (power and interest) in specific ways to cause outcomes requires a reconceptualizing collective-idea change. 14

                                            iv.     This requires 2 stages:

1.     Collapse - Societal members must somehow concur, explicitly or tacitly, that the old dominant orthodoxy is inadequate, thus causing its collapse.

2.     Consolidation - Members must consolidate some new replacement set of ideas, lest they return to the old simply by default. 14

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