Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 11/2008

Civilising Globalism: Transnational Norm-Building Networks — A Research Programme

Ulrich Mückenberger

October 2008

German Institute of Global and Area Studies


Decentralised, self-organised cross-border activities are increasingly shaping global policymaking. While state actors have lost ground, policy and economic networks have emerged as key actors, transforming international relations as well as national spheres. Academic discourse is following their activity, often focusing on "advocacy networks" and on the role of transnational actors within the transformation of the world economy and world polity. In contrast to these research activities, the approach proposed here extends the scope of inquiry to include the role of transnational networks in norm-building and norm-implementation. The networks under scrutiny here do not confine themselves to the articulation of particular interests, the resolution of particular conflicts, or compliance with legal norms. It is presumed here that a variety of networks which are fundamentally concerned with the creation of norms have emerged. The predominance of the nation-state, one of the main characteristics of modern democratic thinking, has eroded to the point where the fundamental nexus of voice (democratic participation) and entitlement (legal and social rights and duties) has been weakened or even broken. We presume that this decentration has fundamentally changed the option of voice as one of the most important responses by citizens to crisis and change. This comes to the fore with the emergence and effectiveness of transnational norm-building networks. The article develops a research programme, the outcome of which will shed light on this new resource for the development of a democratised world polity.