Internationalization: Nation-States Remain Legitimate, New Study Shows

The literature on globalization and the democratic nation state is dominated by a crisis diagnosis: Economic and political internationalization, the argument goes, are responsible for a waning state capacity. Yet what links internationalization with changing perceptions and evaluations of legitimacy? While there are plausible normative accounts of internationalization effects on the democratic nation state and its legitimacy, empirical perspectives on the link between internationalization and legitimacy are few and far between. In this book chapter, Henning Schmidtke and co-authors draw on a content analysis of legitimation discourses in the quality press of two EU member states (Germany, United Kingdom) and two democracies outside the EU (Switzerland, the United States) over a ten-year period (1998-2007). Their analysis suggests that internationalization has no uniform effect on the ascription or denial of legitimacy in the public spheres of the four examined countries. As a result, it does not foster a general decline of state legitimacy.

Sebastian Haunss, Henning Schmidtke & Steffen Schneider (2015), ‘Internationalization and the Discursive Legitimation of the Democratic Nation State’, In State Transformations in OECD Countries: Dimensions, Driving Forces and Trajectories, edited by Heinz Rothgang and Steffen Schneider, pp.  pp.167–186 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan).

New Article: Between Functionality and Legitimacy: German Diplomatic Talk About the Opening of Intergovernmental Organizations

Have you ever wondered how diplomats, i.e. arguably still the most powerful actors in international organizations, think and talk about the idea of non-state participation? In my most recent article in Global Governance, I argue that German diplomacy so far only rarely conceptualizes non-state participation in intergovernmental organizations as a valuable step improving IO legitimacy. Rather, a functional understanding of IO participation, i.e. highlighting the material benefits of NGOs and others, persists. The notion that NGOs may also contribute to a larger legitimacy of IOs, e.g. by establishing participative and transparent procedures, is rarely mentioned and even actively challenged.

Below’s the abstract. Please feel free to comment!

Who should be allowed to participate in intergovernmental organizations? There is a growing debate about the increasing opening of IGOs for nonstate actors. Explanations of this phenomenon either highlight the functional benefits of opening, or the need of opening to maintain or increase organizational legitimacy. This article analyzes how German diplomatic talk frames nonstate participation and refers to functionality or legitimacy when justifying the opening of IGOs. The perspective of diplomats, the main gatekeepers of change in IGOs, has rarely been considered for analysis. This article argues that German diplomatic discourse about opening is mainly functional. There is only limited reference to nonstate participation as an element of IGO legitimacy. Further, there are elements in German diplomatic talk that challenge the legitimacy of nonstate actors.

New Article: Tamed Transparency Revisited

Does transparency have a transformative potential? In an earlier work published in Global Environmental Politics, Klaus Dingwerth and Margot Eichinger said no. They argued that the transparency sought for in and through corporate environmental reports was ‘tamed’ in several ways. Most importantly, relevant information was difficult to find and reports remained largely incomparable. In a follow-up piece to that article, the authors now scrutinize how non-commercial intermediaries (such as GoodGuide) as well as commercial intermediaries (such as IW Financial or MSCI) contribute to rendering the information contained in standardized corporate environmental reports more actionable. Their analysis shows that commercial intermediaries manage to collect and organize corporate environmental data in a way that helps at least some user groups to compare corporate environmental performance in meaningful ways. But the commercialization of transparency comes at a cost: It leaves the definition of what is ‘useful’ information to those who are willing and able to pay for such information. In a nutshell, investors benefit more from transparency than concerned citizens. For the latter, the new piece – which appears as a chapter in Aarti Gupta and Michael Mason’s newly released Transparency in Global Environmental Governance: Critical Perspectives (MIT Press, 2014) – nevertheless includes at least one important lesson: Del Monte cinnamon flavoured pear halves may look like fruits. But that does not mean they’re healthy.