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Session Overview
RN15_02a_P: Questioning the Power of State in a Global Context
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Marco Caselli, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore
Location: PC.3.21
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: C, Level: 3.

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Power as authority

Pertti Alasuutari

University of Tampere, Finland

This paper argues that to understand authority in governance the modern world system, instead of starting from its allegedly “real” or “material” bases, we must treat compliance and its various groundings as the primary and real footing of authority. From this perspective, the potential structural position behind an actor’s -- for instance an individual's, state's or international organization's -- authority is just one strategy by which the actor in question attempts to ground their authority. In other words, authority must be considered as built on belief and trust, which those intending to affect the comportment of others use to manipulate others’ conception of the situation at hand. Altogether, it is suggested that we can identify four types of authority: ontological, moral, capacity-based and charismatic. Ontological authority refers to respect for a person or organization as an actor that presents a credible picture of reality; moral authority depicts deference based on the belief that a person, organization, text or principle tells us what is right or wrong; capacity-based authority alludes to an actor’s perceived ability to change the conditions for others’ moves (for instance, by imposing sanctions); and finally charismatic authority refers to actors' unique characteristics and fame. The paper illustrates this typology by taking examples from the role of international organizations in global governance.

Studying global policy transfers in the governance of Large Scale Agricultural Investments in Mozambique:

Magalie Bourblanc

GovInn, University of Pretoria, South Africa

It is a well-known fact that Large-scale agricultural investments (LSAI) are driven by diverse global market forces (demands for food, feed, biofuels etc). One of the commonly held hypotheses is to claim that the global market forces have had a major (mainly detrimental) impact on developing countries, especially with regard food security and natural resources management, because governance frameworks have largely failed/been nonexistent at both global, national and local levels to ensure sustainable and equitable development through these LSAIs. Against this backdrop, global governance instruments have been designed in a bid to regulate a phenomenon of so-called “land grabbing” following the world food prices crisis of 2007/2008. The most renown ones are the Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment that Respects Livelihoods, and Resources (PRAI) and the Voluntary Guidelines on the Responsible Governance of Tenure of Land, Fisheries and Forests in the Context of National Food Security. If an extended amount of academic work has been dedicated to the study of these global policy instruments’ adoption at the international level, the impact of these initiatives on the ground and at the national level is an empirical question that remains to be answered (Borras et al. 2013). The Afgroland research project (Belmont forum call, 2015-2018) objective is to provide an in-depth analysis of the multi-level dynamic in the governance of large-scale agricultural investments between the local, the national and the global levels. We study in particular potential policy transfers around these two global policy instruments but also around other emerging policy norms. We use process-tracing methods for a case study located in Mozambique.

The Discursive Power of International Rankings and Turkey

Yetkin Baskavak1,2

1Yildiz Technical University, Turkey; 2Istanbul Bilgi University, Turkey

The proliferation of global rankings, which measure the performance of states in various areas of politics, constitute a significant part of the architecture of global governance. The increasing popularity of these rankings gives them both a discursive power and a disciplinary function. By “discursive power”, I refer to their role in defining the “normative horizons” of politics. They do not just measure or monitor, but they also define the ideal, the good, the legitimate and the acceptable. By providing benchmarks and describing “best practices”, they constitute an integral part in the processes of international diffusion of ideas, institutions or policies. To the extent that they practically influence the decisions and actions of states or international bodies, moreover, these indexes also execute a disciplinary function, compelling their targets to comply with the norms they propagate. These functions are realised, however, in the way they are received and reacted upon by the states and publics they measure. This paper analyzes this interactive dimension in the case of Turkey, through the examples of credit ratings, the OECD's PISA scores and the freedom of the press rankings, covering three areas of economics, education and civil liberties.

The moral authority of science in the modern world polity: Cross-national evidence from parliamentary discourse

Ali Qadir, Jukka Syväterä

University of Tampere, Finland

Sociological institutionalist research has quantitatively mapped the spread of science to ever-more domains of public life fed by national integration in the modern world polity. However, it remains unclear why or how political actors themselves rely on science in their discourse. This paper offers a “thick,” qualitatively derived, bottom-up account of how the authority of science is built in national policymaking and what that results in. We ask what precisely policymakers talk about when they talk about science, what use individual actors put the authority of science to, under what conditions, and with what conflicts. Relying on a framework of epistemic governance, the paper examines parliamentary debates on new laws to describe the role of “objective” science in a quintessentially moral activity, namely lawmaking. Making a comparative, qualitative analysis of parliamentary discourse over 20 years in seven countries, we confirm the institutionalist argument that there is growing reliance on science around the world, and that this usage does not correlate with functional requirements. Furthermore, we find ample references not just to particular sciences, but also to science in the abstract, undefined sense, and find hardly any contests around the use of science. That is, science enjoys a largely uncontested authority in parliaments around the world in making new laws. Moreover, the nature of parliaments means that our findings reflect broad socio-cultural premises considered valid in modern society. We therefore argue that science has assumed what Durkheim referred to as a sweeping “moral authority,” and discuss that role in detail.

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