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Constructivism and the Creation of Cyber Security Threat

Learning Objectives

At the end of this chapter, students will be able to:

  • Define the major ideas associated with constructivism – including intersubjective understandings, agency, and discourse/language.

  • List four analogies or metaphors used to describe the internet and their significance.

  • List key military terms associated with the internet – including

    critical infrastructure, resiliency and domain.

Questions for Discussion

In their work on policy language and framing, Epstein et al. write that:
"Policy language is a human-made artifact.  The process of creating (and deploying) policy language is a function of historical and temporal.... factors, such as social norms, group dynamics, rhetoric, and cognitive processing.  As such, policy discourse is reflective of both the power structures and the political dynamics in a given policy context; it is through discourse that policymakers enact the social structures of signification and legitimization within which they act."

Consider the “state of the nation” speech which Russian President Vladimir Putin gave in March 2018.  (A transcript is available here:

  1. How does Putin frame his plans to expand the internet in Russia, Russia’s investment in new hardware including an expansion of the internet backbone, and plans to store user data in Russia? 

  2. What other elements of state power are these initiatives related to? 

  3. How does this language connect to what you know about Russia historically?)


Epstein, D., Roth, M., Baumer, E. (2014).  "It's the definition, Stupid!  The framing of Online Privacy in the internet governance forum debates."  Journal of Information Policy 4, 146-7.

Chapter 5

Present the three major International relations paradigms: 

realism, Liberal Internationalism and Constructivism


They lay out key concepts and explain how they relate to events in cyberspace.


cyber realism 2.jpg
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