Issue of Russian identity

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Introduction Nina Hiekonen 64833 International Relations/ Thesis Writing KKEN61 The Issue of Russian Identity The issue of identity is important as it provides certain characteristics of state. It describes a state and resolves questions of state identification. It characterizes a state in the context of other states. In addition, it constructs an idea of a state. Constructivism offers alternative understandings of a number of central themes in International Relations theory, including the meaning of anarchy and a balance of power, a relationship between state identity and interest, and prospects for change in world politics. Constructivism assumes that actors and structures mutually constitute each other; anarchy must be interpreted to have a meaning; state interests are

part of the process of identity construction; power is both material and discursive; and change in world politics is both possible and difficult (Hopf, 1998:171). For constructivists there is no “logic” of anarchy apart from the practices that create and instantiate one structure of identities and interests rather than another; structure has no existence or causal powers apart from process. Self-help and power politics are institutions, not essential features of anarchy. Anarchy is what states make of it (Wendt, 1992:395). In constructivism, identity is an important creative factor. Identity plays an important role in world politics. Identities are produced by interactions, institutions, norms and cultures. In addition, identities are important for the construction of the

state (Wendt 1992). From the constructivist’s point of view, identities are necessary in international politics in order to ensure some level of predictability and order. A world without identities is a world of chaos, a world of uncertainty. Identities perform necessary functions in a society: they tell you and others who you are and they tell you who others are. A state understands others according to the identity it attributes to them, and reproduces its own identity. (Hopf, 1998:174). A state identity is formed in a system of states. Hopf assumes that constructivism, while expecting to uncover differences, identities and multiple understandings, still assumes that it can specify a set of conditions under which one can expect to see one identity or another (Hopf, 1998).

Understanding how identities are constructed, what norms and practices accompany their reproduction, and how they construct each other is a major part of the constructivist research program. Constructivism assumes, a priori, that identities are potentially part of the constitutive practices of the state, and so, productive of its actions at home and abroad. Different states behave differently towards other states, based on the identities of each (Hopf 1998, 174). Identity of a state in international politics is quite important as it characterizes the state internally and internationally. Every identity brings in itself a certain knowledge about the state, its internal and external issues, as well as state behavior. One state whose behaviour has received a lot of attention both in

recent years and at present is Russia. The way Russia sees itself in the world order is a way in which the state is recognised. It plays on the world stage as a power which has its world to say in the world politics. An identity of Russia produced during the history has been re-valued and judged by politicians. The Russian state has its peculiar role in the world. It is a huge power which has a specific national identity and which occupies a special position in the world order. To see Russia's development in history, it has undergone many changes, and during history the state identity of Russia was formed. Dramatic changes, which characterized all the history of Russian Empire were significant and reflected a strong nature of the Russian state. Its position in the world order