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Modes of Social Inquiry

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Social Constructivism

Social constructivism is a theory which lays emphasis on human awareness or consciousness and its position and value in world affairs. 

Kenneth Gergen (1982; 1985; 1994) also endeavored to explain social construction. He said that terms which aid us in understanding the world have been socially constructed because these terms are the product of historical collaboration with members of the society.

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Constructivist Theory in I.R

Constructivist theory says that the assumption of neo-realist theory is based on a faulty premise which says that military forces and economic capabilities define the power struggle among states both inter-state and intra-state. Constructivists refute such a theory and state that the most crucial aspect of international relations is social and not material. On the contrary, it states that 'Anarchy is the core substance out of which states are made'. That is, anarchy exists because states choose to keep it. Anarchy is the product of the norms, values, rules and regulations that the government or the state has constructed. States are a victim of anarchy because of the way; the states and the system of states have been constructed. Constructivist theory holds that it’s possible to change the lawless nature of states.

Post Modernism

Post-Modernism is a very vast term to define. However, in context of modern culture, it refers to distinct characteristics such as the rejection of truth based on personal biases and prejudices. It emphasizes on the role of language and power relations in particular it sharply refutes the discriminations done against male versusfemale, straight versus gay, white versus black, and imperial versus colonial. Postmodernism has left an indelible impact on many cultural fields which include literary criticism, linguistics, architecture, visual arts, and music.

Postmodernists believe that everything is relative and there’s no such thing as universal or absolute truth. Since Social Science is a relative science, the views of every individual are categorized as subjective and there’s no question of right or wrong. Postmodernist views the world outside of themselves as being in error which means that the truth of people cannot be separated from error. Hence, one individual cannot enforce his concept or principle of morality upon another individual.

Critical Social Science

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“Critical Social Sciences theory is concerned with enhancing individual well-being and autonomy through societal critique that has its origins in philosophy, sociology and political economics.”  It says that science cannot be descriptive if we merely start rationalizing the subject matter of science. On the contrary, we should divulge into the subject matter bringing out hidden prejudices and critically analyze them. Critical theorists believe that since natural science and social science vary explicitly different from each other, hence their way of approaching social inquiry should also be very different. Social Scientists should not let their morals or ethical values get into their way while doing research. Similarly their approach towards doing any research should not be based on objective knowledge but should be subjective. This according to critical theorists will allow the research to be more authentic.


Hermeneutics is a mode of social inquiry which helps in identifying research efforts and the antics of human behavior. Hermeneutics is essentially a philosophical term and is referred to as the “art of interpreting.” Hermeneutics was originally considered as a lawful and divine methodology. It involved the regulation of communal law and the interpretation of a system of beliefs and dogma but gradually it underwent a transition and developed into a universal theory of human understanding through the efforts of notable sociologists which include Friedrich Schleiermacher, Wilhelm Dilthey and Martin Heidegger. Hermeneutics is now considered to be more superior and all- encompassing than a mere legal theory. It is our understanding of linguistic and non-linguistic expression. Hermeneutics perceives that the meanings which shape our life also influence the practices and institutions of others and has an indelible impact on both ourselves and others. The understanding of any written text requires hermeneutics; reading a literary text is as much a hermeneutic act as inferring a law or Scripture. If we have witnessed, a hotel being blown up into smithereens or a catastrophe occurring, our intuition tells us that something bad has happened right there and has not just occurred in our mind.

Critical Analysis of Hermeneutics

Lately, hermeneutics has evolved into becoming a very critical theory. Originally, hermeneutics involved understanding the meaning that writers gave to the text, rather than the meaning that readers interpreted from the text.

However, now hermeneutics has now become more secularized. It involves the meaning, implication and connotation and the relationship between the author, text and the reader. 

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