Science And Non-science In Political Reassurance Work: Trends In International Recommendations And The Justifications Used By OECD, 1961–2018
Tampere University, Finland
This paper explores the ways international policy recommendations have been justified, and whether these justifications have changed during the last six decades. Our investigation is inspired by the existing scientization scholarship according to which policy ideas and recommendations marketed by the international organizations are ever more often justified by references to scientific research. We test the idea of policy models and ideas becoming increasingly scientized in relation to the epistemic governance theory. The theory points to the fact that in the political reassurance work, whether national or international, actors make use of all kinds of authorities they believe to be shared among the audience members. Thus, in their attempts to convince actors resort to the authority of science but also to non-scientific elements such as different moral or ethical principles and actor identifications. In this paper, we investigate what kind of authorities have been invoked to motivate international policy recommendations, as well as change in these practices. As a case in point, we focus on the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the policy recommendations put forward in its reporting. The data used in the empirical analysis consist of the Economic Surveys published by the OECD and covers years 1961–2018.
The Conditional Cash Transfer Narrative: Construction Of A Global Policy Model
Tampere University, Finland
During the past two decades, more than 60 countries have implemented a conditional cash transfer (CCT) program, and by now, the ‘CCT policy model’ has been established as one of the most well-known policy brands worldwide. The prevailing CCT narrative begins from the notion that the CCT model was created domestically in Mexico and Brazil, from where the diffusion of CCTs began. The literature concerned with CCTs tends to take this narrative as a given and focuses on impact evaluations and prerequisites for CCT diffusion. This paper places this narrative under scrutiny by qualitative analysis of textual documents produced by relevant international organisations (IOs). We scrutinise the construction of CCTs by tracing its evolution into a recognisable model and a global policy trend. The results show that the prevailing narrative is overly simplified in downplaying the role of IOs in the creation of CCTs, and placing the origin of the policy model in Mexico and Brazil (whose CCTs were actually preceded by comparable programs set up in other countries). IOs such as the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank and the International Food Policy Research Institute have played a central role in the construction of the global policy model – as well as in upholding the CCT narrative. We argue that the editing of ‘policy narratives’ is a crucial part of epistemic governance through which IOs influence on the construction of global policy models when they strive to conduct the conduct of nation-states.
Rationality, Romantics and the Makings of a Global "Supermodel"
Tampere University, Finland
Studies by world society scholars have brought to light the remarkable isomorphism between nation-states. The policies, practices and institutions of nation-states seem surprisingly similar across the world. Underlying this isomorphism some have posited a world cultural trend toward increasing rationalization. Calculative instrumental rationality, professionalization and managerial expertise are constantly expanding to new fields of activity. Shared understanding of rational behaviour helps to disseminate identical institutions worldwide. There is still room for romantic ideals and irrationality in the world culture, but their legitimacy is limited to the domain of expressive culture.
However, there seems to be at least one globally successful organizational model that does not fit well with this image of expanding cultural rationalization. Science and technology parks (STPs) have turned out to be extremely fashionable all over the world since the 1980s. Today, one can find several hundred STPs in the world, spread across countries such as the United States, China and Azerbaijan. STPs are surely tied to the calculative practices of profit-making in the business world, but the language used to promote and describe them seems to draw more on romantic ideals than the vocabulary of calculative rationality. Our data-set is comprised of parliamentary records and interviews regarding STPs in Finland and the United Kingdom. By analysing the root metaphors found in the talk concerning STPs, we examine how instrumental rationality and romanticism are mixed together and reconciled with each other in a way that helps to make STPs a global "supermodel".
Rethinking Global Power: The Space of States
University of Bristol, United Kingdom
This paper proposes a novel sociological framework for understanding international relations. The starting point is Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of field, denoting a system of domination and struggle in relation to a relatively autonomous principle of misrecognition, or capital. While originally deployed to understand national-level struggles among, for example, artists and state bureaucrats, some scholars (e.g. Gisele Sapiro, Frederic Lebaron, George Steinmetz, Julian Go) have since begun identifying transnational or even global fields. Building on some of these ideas, the paper makes the case that there is a field, or space, of states in which state actors, controlling state resources (especially economic capital, military capital and cultural capital) are positioned. There are dominant and dominated states, and states with different compositions of capital, and state actors’ feel for the game underpin so many global strategies, from trade deals and embargoes to war. This conception, for which there is some tentative statistical support, has the potential to overcome many of the limitations of existing theories of international relations and global power – from realism and constructivism to world-systems theory – while integrating some of their major insights.