Critical and constructivist approach to security studies

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These last years, the critical and constructivist approach to strategic and security studies has begun to question, directly and indirectly, the classical realist-rationalist approach to theoretical and methodological matters in social and political Sciences. The main elements of this criticism are presented through examples covering three specific research fields in security studies : the elaboration of security policies in the proliferation and arms control field, the impact of cultural dimensions on politics and security practices, and finally, the emergence of new security concepts. It appears that the essential objective of the interrogations that realistic-rationalistic researches have raised is to bring the causes of specific events to the light (« Why »), when constructivist investigations focus on the way certain interests are defined, thus becoming determining factors (« How »). The author joins an intermediary trend, advocating for the complementary quality of constructivist and realisticrationalist works : answering to both « how » and « why », it opens the way for a more global theoretical vision. –Summary AFRI-2003