When the fix Isn't In: Toward a Reflexive Pragmatism
Over recent decades, scholars and policymakers spanning an array of theoretical perspectives have stressed the scope for constructing beliefs and "fixing" expectations, in ways that can see shared ideas acquire the reflexive weight of self-fulfilling prophecies. In international relations theory debates, scholars argued that the "strategic social construction" of ideas and norms might in turn acquire the force of self-reinforcing taken for granted beliefs. For example, the broad notion of a "democratic peace" was heralded as enabling a self-reinforcing limitation on conflict among liberal states. while it may appear for a time that the intersubjective "fix is in", efforts at sustaining stability nevertheless face a key limit as stability can paradoxically give rise to new, unanticipated expectations that undermine ostensibly self-sustaining orders. Ideational and institutional agents may be seen as capable of efficiently fixing material or social incentives, providing self-reinforcing bases of prolonged stability.
Reflexivity and International Relations: Positionality, Critique, and Practice