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Reconstructing embedded liberalism: John Gerard Ruggie and constructivist approaches to the study of the international trade regime

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In 1982, John Gerard Ruggie published a study of the postwar international trade and monetary regimes in which he introduced the concept of ‘embedded liberalism’. A large and growing number of international trade scholars are finding Ruggie’s concept of embedded liberalism an appealing one, and it now occupies a significant place on our conceptual horizon. In this article, the author returns to Ruggie’s original article to excavate lessons which are peculiarly relevant for current trade law scholarship. He argues that Ruggie’s account of embedded liberalism usefully serves to destabilize common assumptions about the objectives and normative underpinnings of the trade regime and thereby to expand our conceptions of what a liberal trade regime might plausibly look like. On the other hand, he explains why he does not share the enthusiasm of those who see in embedded liberalism an attractive normative vision to guide WTO reform. In addition, and most importantly, the author draws attention to the constructivist theoretical framework of Ruggie’s piece. He suggests that Ruggie’s article provides a useful introduction to the central elements of constructivist thinking about international institutions and shows how attention to constructivist insights has the potential to significantly enrich and expand our understanding of the trade regime and of trade law.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/23827/

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