The concept of epistemic communities — professional networks with authoritative and policy-relevant expertise — is well-known thanks to a 1992 special issue of International Organization. Over the past twenty years, the idea has gained some traction in International Relations scholarship, but has not evolved much beyond its original conceptualisation. Much of the research on epistemic communities has been limited to single case studies in articles, rather than broader comparative works, and has focused narrowly on groups of scientists. As a result, it is often assumed, erroneously, that epistemic communities are only comprised of scientists, and that the utility of the concept for understanding International Relations is quite narrow. Consequently, an otherwise promising approach to transnational networks has become somewhat marginalised over the years. This article revisits the concept of epistemic communities twenty years later and proposes specific innovations to the framework. In an increasingly globalising world, transnational actors are becoming progressively more numerous and influential. Epistemic communities are certainly at the forefront of these trends, and a better understanding of how they form and operate can give us a clear demonstration of how knowledge translates into power.
Liberal peacebuilding has become the target of considerable criticism. Although much of this criticism is warranted, a number of scholars and commentators have come to the opinion that liberal peacebuilding is either fundamentally destructive, or illegitimate, or both. On close analysis, however, many of these critiques appear to be exaggerated or misdirected. At a time when the future of peacebuilding is uncertain, it is important to distinguish between justified and unjustified criticisms, and to promote a more balanced debate on the meaning, shortcomings and prospects of liberal peacebuilding.
Although the concept of regional power is frequently used in International Relations (IR) literature, there is no consensus regarding the defining characteristics of a regional power. The article discusses different theoretical approaches that address the topic of power hierarchies in international politics and make reference to the concept of regional power. Marking differences as well as common ground with the more traditional concept of 'middle powers', the article outlines an analytical concept of regional powers adequate for contemporary IR research. The analytical dimensions of the framework may be employed to differentiate regional powers from other states and to compare regional powers with regard to their power status or relative power. Furthermore, the article investigates the possible repercussions of the rise of regional powers for international politics and discusses the probable importance and functions of regional governance structures for regional powers.
This article introduces international icons to the field of International Relations. International icons are freestanding images that are widely circulated, recognised, and emotionally responded to. International icons come in the form of foreign policy icons familiar to a specific domestic audience, regional icons, and global icons. Icons do not speak foreign policy in and of themselves rather their meaning is constituted in discourse. Images rise to the status of international icons in part through images that appropriate the icon itself, either in full or through inserting parts of the icon into new images. Appropriations might be used and read as critical interventions into foreign policy debates, but such readings should themselves be subjected to analysis. A three-tier analytical and methodological framework for studying international icons is presented and applied in a case study of the hooded prisoner widely claimed to be emblematic of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.
Norm dynamics studies typically accord a special status to norm entrepreneurs, actors who promote new global norms. But conceptually privileging these agents of change has meant the norm dynamics literature has become unbalanced and marred by case selection bias. Accordingly, an oppositional role - the norm antipreneur' - should be recognised to correct these problems. When the normative status quo in an issue-area is entrenched, a clear distinction can be drawn between the entrepreneurs and antipreneurs, because in these contexts the antipreneurs enjoy significant but under-appreciated tactical and strategic advantages. Recognising this enables the construction of a norm dynamics role-spectrum - a sort of typology of roles' - including competitor entrepreneur' and creative resister' in addition to the entrepreneur and antipreneur roles which actors might play in particular norm contestation contexts. Understanding these roles promises to improve analyses of the dynamic interactions between actors in particular norm contestation processes, thereby bringing greater overall balance to the norm dynamics literature. (1
This essay addresses two questions. It first asks what happens to security practices when they take species life as their referent object. It then asks what happens to security practices which take species life as their referent object when the very understanding of species life undergoes transformation and change. In the process of addressing these two questions the essay provides an exegesis of Michel Foucault's analytic of biopolitics as a dispositif de sécurité and contrasts this account of security with that given by traditional geopolitical security discourses. The essay also theorises beyond Foucault when it interrogates the impact in the twentieth century of the compression of morbidity on populations and the molecular revolution on what we now understand life to be. It concludes that 'population', which was the empirical referent of early biopolitics, is being superseded by 'heterogenesis'. This serves as the empirical referent for the recombinant biopolitics of security in the molecular age.
'New regionalism', 'region', 'city-region', 'cross-border region', 'border' and 'identity' have become important catchphrases on the global geo-economic and geopolitical scene. The resurgence of these terms has been part of the transformation of both political economy and governance at supra-state, state and sub-state scales. Regions have been particularly significant in the EU where both the making of the Union itself and the 'Europe of regions' are concrete manifestations of the re-scaling of state spaces and the assignment of new meanings to territory. Such re-scaling has also led to increased competition between regions; a tendency that results from both the neo-liberalisation of the global economy and from a regionalist response. Regional identity, an idea at least implicitly indicating some cohesiveness or social integration in a region, has become a major buzzword. It has been particularly identified in the EU's cohesion policy as an important element for regional development. In spite of their increasing importance in social life and academic debates, regions, borders and identities are often studied separately, but this paper aims at theorising and illustrating their meanings in an integrated conceptual framework and uses the sub-state regions in Europe, and particularly in Finland, as concrete examples. Regions are conceptualised here as processes that gain their boundaries, symbolisms and institutions in the process of institutionalisation. Through this process a region becomes established, gains its status in the broader regional structure and may become a significant unit for regional identification or for a purported regional identity. This process is based on a division of labour, which accentuates the power of regional elites in the institutionalisation processes.
Social legitimacy is central to the effectiveness of international organisations (IOs). Yet, so far, we have little systematic knowledge about what drives citizens to support or oppose IOs. In this article, we isolate and assess three alternative explanations of social legitimacy in global governance, privileging interest representation, institutional performance, and confidence extrapolation. We test these theories in a multilevel analysis of citizen confidence in the United Nations (UN) using World Values Survey and European Values Study data, supplemented by contextual measures. The results grant support to the arguments that institutional performance and confidence extrapolation shape popular confidence in the UN, while offering little support for the explanation of interest representation. These findings challenge the predominant understanding that more democratic procedures lead to greater social legitimacy for IOs. Instead, the UN case suggests that the social legitimacy of IOs is based primarily on the organisations' capacity to deliver, as well as on citizens' general confidence in political institutions, which IOs may have little to do with and can do little to change.
The Copenhagen school's theory of securitisation has mainly focused on the middle level of world politics in which collective political units, often but not always states, construct relationships of amity or enmity with each other. Its argument has been that this middle level would be the most active both because of the facility with which collective political units can construct each other as threats, and the difficulty of finding audiences for the kinds of securitisations and referent objects that are available at the individual and system levels. This article focuses on the gap between the middle and system levels, and asks whether there is not more of substance there than the existing Copenhagen school analyses suggests. It revisits the under-discussed concept of security constellations in Copenhagen school theory, and adds to it the idea of macrosecuritisations as ways of getting an analytical grip on what happens above the middle level. It then suggests how applying these concepts adds not just a missing sense of scale, but also a useful insight into underlying political logics, to how one understands the patterns of securitisation historical, and contemporary.
Although emotions play a significant role in world politics they have so far received surprisingly little attention by International Relations scholars. Numerous authors have emphasised this shortcoming for several years now, but strangely there are still only very few systematic inquiries into emotions and even fewer related discussions on method. The article explains this gap by the fact that much of International Relations scholarship is conducted in the social sciences. Such inquiries can assess emotions up to a certain point, as illustrated by empirical studies on psychology and foreign policy and constructivist engagements with identity and community. But conventional social science methods cannot understand all aspects of phenomena as ephemeral as those of emotions. Doing so would involve conceptualising the influence of emotions even when and where it is not immediately apparent. The ensuing challenges are daunting, but at least some of them could be met by supplementing social scientific methods with modes of inquiry emanating from the humanities. By drawing on feminist and other interpretive approaches we advance three propositions that would facilitate such cross-disciplinary inquiries. (1) The need to accept that research can be insightful and valid even if it engages unobservable phenomena, and even if the results of such inquiries can neither be measured nor validated empirically; (2) The importance of examining processes of representation, such as visual depictions of emotions and the manner in which they shape political perceptions and dynamics; (3) A willingness to consider alternative forms of insight, most notably those stemming from aesthetics sources, which, we argue, are particularly suited to capturing emotions. Taken together, these propositions highlight the need for a sustained global communication across different fields of knowledge.
The 'liberal peace' is undergoing a crisis of legitimacy at the level of the everyday in post-conflict environments. In many such environments; different groups often locally constituted perceive it to be ethically bankrupt, subject to double standards, coercive and conditional, acultural, unconcerned with social welfare, and unfeeling and insensitive towards its subjects. It is tied to Western and liberal conceptions of the state, to institutions, and not to the local. Its post-Cold War moral capital, based upon its more emancipatory rather than conservative claims, has been squandered as a result, and its basic goal of a liberal social contract undermined. Certainly, since 9/11, attention has been diverted into other areas and many, perhaps promising peace processes have regressed. This has diverted attention away from a search for refinements, alternatives, for hybrid forms of peace, or for empathetic strategies through which the liberal blueprint for peace might coexist with alternatives. Yet from these strategies a post-liberal peace might emerge via critical research agendas for peacebuilding and for policymaking, termed here, eirenist. This opens up a discussion of an everyday 'post-liberal peace' and critical policies for peacebuilding.
Benchmarking practices have rapidly diffused throughout the globe in recent years. This can be traced to their popularity amongst non-state actors, such as civil society organisations and corporate actors, as well as states and international organisations (IOs). Benchmarks serve to both neutralise' and universalise' a range of overlapping normative values and agendas, including freedom of speech, democracy, human development, environmental protection, poverty alleviation, modern' statehood, and free' markets. The proliferation of global benchmarks in these key areas amounts to a comprehensive normative vision regarding what various types of transnational actors should look like, what they should value, and how they should behave. While individual benchmarks routinely differ in terms of scope and application, they all share a common foundation, with normative values and agendas being translated into numerical representations through simplification and extrapolation, commensuration, reification, and symbolic judgements. We argue that the power of benchmarks chiefly stems from their capacity to create the appearance of authoritative expertise on the basis of forms of quantification and numerical representation. This politics of numbers paves the way for the exercise of various forms of indirect power, or governance at a distance', for the purposes of either status quo legitimation or political reform.
In studying the global spread and implementation of liberal norms, scholars have moved from linear notions of norm diffusion and promotion to an emphasis on norm contestation. Contestation by the supposed beneficiaries and addressees has taken centre stage in both research on the norms that underpin global governance and in studies on democracy promotion and liberal peacebuilding. While the impetus of this scholarship is normative - to overcome the taken-for-granted nature of liberal norms - the concept of contestation itself is mainly used with an analytical interest. Yet, as we show in this article, contestation also comes with - oftentimes implicit - normative connotations. Focusing on the seminal work of Milja Kurki, Oliver Richmond, Antje Wiener, and Amitav Acharya, we reconstruct these normative connotations. It turns out that the normative take on contestation is fairly conventional in all four approaches. Contestation is largely seen as a means to enable dialogue, as illustrated by Acharya's metaphor of the Banyan tree. Fundamental conflicts over liberal norms (battle scenes') are either not considered or seen as normatively undesirable. As a way forward, we propose a typology that enables scholars to empirically analyse contestation in its different expressions and suggest two strategies to normatively assess practices of contestation.
Why are some institutional designs perceived as more legitimate than others, and why is the same institutional design sometimes perceived as legitimacy-enhancing in one setting and not in another? In a world in which most international organisations (IOs) do not fully embody societal values and norms, such as democratic participation and equal treatment, why do legitimacy deficits in some organisations lead to pressure for institutional change while in others they are tolerated? These are important questions given that many analysts have diagnosed a legitimacy crisis' of IOs, but we argue that existing approaches are ill equipped to answer them. We show that the existing legitimacy literature has an implicit model of institutional change - the congruence model - but that this model has difficulty accounting for important patterns of change and non-change because it lacks microfoundations. We argue that attributions of legitimacy rest on perceptions and this implies the need to investigate the cognitive bases of legitimacy. We introduce a cognitive model of legitimacy and deduce a set of testable propositions to explain the conditions under which legitimacy judgments change and, in turn, produce pressures for institutional change in IOs.
National diplomacy is challenged by the rise of non-state actors from transnational companies to non-governmental organisations. In trying to explain these challenges, scholars tend to either focus on a specific new actor or argue that states will remain the dominant diplomatic players. This article develops an alternative Bourdieu-inspired framework addressing symbolic power. It conceptualises diplomacy in terms of a social field with agents (field incumbents and newcomers alike) who co-construct and reproduce the field by struggling for dominant positions. The framework is applied to the EU's new diplomatic service (the European External Action Service, EEAS), which is one of the most important foreign policy inventions in Europe to date. I show that the EEAS does not challenge national diplomacy in a material sense - but at a symbolic level. The EEAS questions the state's meta-capital, that is, its monopoly of symbolic power and this explains the counter-strategies adopted by national foreign services. The struggles to define the 'genuine' diplomat reveal a rupture in the European diplomatic field, pointing towards a transformation of European statehood and the emergence of a hybrid form of diplomacy. A focus on symbolic power opens up new avenues for the study of transformations of authority in world politics.
The concept of desecuritisation - the move of an issue out of the sphere of security - has been the subject of heated international political theory debate and adopted in case studies across a range of sectors and settings. What unites the political theory and the applied literature is a concern with the normative-political potential of desecuritisation. This article documents the political status and content of desecuritisation through four readings: one which shows how desecuritisation is a Derridarian supplement to the political concept of securitisation; one which traces the understanding of the public sphere's ability to rework the friend-enemy distinction; one which emphasises the role of choice, responsibility, and decisions; and one which uncovers the significance of the historical context of Cold War détente. The last part of the article provides a reading of the varied use of desecuritisation in applied analysis and shows how these can be seen as falling into four forms of desecuritisation. Each of the latter identifies a distinct ontological position as well as a set of more specific political and normative questions.
Hybridity has emerged recently as a key response in International Relations and peace studies to the crisis of liberal peace. Attributing the failures of liberal peacebuilding to a lack of legitimacy deriving from uncompromising efforts to impose a rigid market democratic state model on diverse populations emerging from conflict, the hybrid peace approach locates the possibility of a radical', post-liberal, and emancipatory peace in the agency of the local and the everyday and hybrid' formations of international/liberal and local/non-liberal institutions, practices, and values. However, this article argues, hybrid peace, emerging as an attempt to resolve a problem of difference and alterity specific to the context in which the crisis of liberal peacebuilding manifests, is a problem-solving tool for the encompassment and folding into globalising liberal order of cultural, political, and social orders perceived as radically different and obstructionist to its expansion. Deployed at the very point this expansion is beset by resistance and crisis, hybrid peace reproduces the liberal peace's logics of inclusion and exclusion, and through a reconfiguration of the international interface with resistant local' orders, intensifies the governmental and biopolitical reach of liberal peace for their containment, transformation, and assimilation.
Autonomous weapons systems (AWS) are emerging as key technologies of future warfare. So far, academic debate concentrates on the legal-ethical implications of AWS but these do not capture how AWS may shape norms through defining diverging standards of appropriateness in practice. In discussing AWS, the article formulates two critiques on constructivist models of norm emergence: first, constructivist approaches privilege the deliberative over the practical emergence of norms; and second, they overemphasise fundamental norms rather than also accounting for procedural norms, which we introduce in this article. Elaborating on these critiques allows us to respond to a significant gap in research: we examine how standards of procedural appropriateness emerging in the development and usage of AWS often contradict fundamental norms and public legitimacy expectations. Normative content may therefore be shaped procedurally, challenging conventional understandings of how norms are constructed and considered as relevant in International Relations. In this, we outline the contours of a research programme on the relationship of norms and AWS, arguing that AWS can have fundamental normative consequences by setting novel standards of appropriate action in international security policy.
We develop scholarship on status in international politics by focusing on the social dimension of small and middle power status politics. This vantage opens a new window on the widely-discussed strategies social actors may use to maintain and enhance their status, showing how social creativity, mobility, and competition can all be system-supporting under some conditions. We extract lessons for other thorny issues in status research, notably questions concerning when, if ever, status is a good in itself; whether it must be a positional good; and how states measure it.
How can the materialist turn' contribute to the reshaping of critical geopolitics? This article draws attention to the limits of an approach that emphasises the representational, cultural, and interpretive dimensions of geopolitics, while acknowledging the difficulties of an ontological shift to materiality for many scholars of critical geopolitics. It draws on the work of Karen Barad and Annemarie Mol in order to advance three arguments for the reshaping of critical geopolitics as a field of research. First, it argues for an approach to the analysis of power that examines materialdiscursive intra-actions and that cuts across various ontological, analytical, and disciplinary divides. Second, it argues for an analysis of boundary-production that focuses on the mutual enactment or co-constitution of subjects, objects, and environments rather than on performance. Third, it argues for an analytical approach that engages the terrain of geopolitics in terms of a multiplicity of cuts' that trouble simplifying geopolitical imaginations along with the clear-cut boundaries that these often imply. In so doing, the article makes the case for a more-than-human approach that does not overstate the efficacy of matter, but rather that engages processes of materialisation and dematerialisation without assuming materiality to be a determinant force.