Following Frank Nullmeier’s review of “A Theory of Global Governance” (TOGG) in our previous blogpost, Michael Zürn responds to some of the remarks made by the author. Is TOGG deficient because it does not focus on decision shaping through global capitalism or on power relations between multinationals and child labor? No, he argues, because TOGG is a theory about the effects of the system of global political institutions and does not seek to answer questions about IR in general or provide a new theory of the World Society. Instead, it shows how extra-political relations of power and dominance impact the political system and become institutionalized therein. Lastly, the image of the Owl of Athena that only sets out at dusk is somewhat inaccurate as a comparison, Zürn claims. TOGG does not merely look backwards and assess the strength of Global Governance as it emerged in the 1990s – it examines why this system is on the brink of the abyss, while simultaneously asking for the conditions under which it may survive in the future. Read the whole German article here.
Although the US and China just pledged more cooperation in trade matters, the persistence of today’s global institutional architecture is rather uncertain as a power shift manifests itself ‘from West to East’. While the US withdraws its support from international agreements and institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), China largely continues to support the WTO’s work. So far China’s increasing global influence becomes most apparent in the areas of international trade and development banking. The question arises to what extent China fills the gaps that the US leaves behind as it abandons some of its international institutions – or ‘houses’, if you like – that make up the larger architecture.
Thomas Cole – The Course of Empire Destruction (1836)
In a recent article in Foreign Affairs (‘The Liberal Order is Rigged’), Jeff Colgan and Robert Keohane have highlighted some shortcomings of the liberal international order. They point out that not everybody has been a winner from economic globalization, and they are worried about the emergence of ‘populism’ and the threat that this may pose to institutions such as the United Nations, European Union, World Trade Organization, and NATO.
Episodes of introspection and self-doubt amongst many scholars and policy makers have been common since Brexit and the election of Donald Trump. What is interesting about this one in particular is that it comes from one of the foremost scholars in the field of International Relations, who is in large part the originator of the liberal institutionalist approach to international politics.
In der ersten Folge unserer neuen Interviewreihe spricht Lynda Iroulo mit dem Direktor der Abteilung Global Governance am WZB und Professor für Internationale Beziehungen an der Freien Universität Berlin – Michael Zürn. Dabei geht es um unseren neuen Blog, Populismus und internationale Beziehungen – und wir finden heraus mit welchem politischen Theoretiker Michael gerne Abendessen gehen würde.
Eine gekürzte und ins Deutsche übersetzte Version des Interviews finden Sie weiter unten oder Sie hören sich das gesamte Interview (auf Englisch) hier an:
Iroulo: Können Sie kurz die Abteilung Global Governance und den Blog vorstellen?
Zürn: Die Forscher*innen unserer Abteilung arbeiten hauptsächlich zu internationalen Institutionen. Wie funktionieren diese? Welchen Einfluss haben sie auf die Weltpolitik und wie kooperieren diese Institutionen im System, das wir Global Governance nennen? Aber auch die Theorien internationaler Politik interessieren uns. Wir sind eine lebendige und bunte Gruppe aus rund 25 Mitarbeiter*innen – Doktorand*innen, Postdocs, Forschungsassistent*innen und mir.
In the first episode of our new interview series, host Lynda Iroulo is interviewing Michael Zürn, Director of the Global Governance Research Unit at the WZB and Professor of International Relations at the Free University in Berlin. Topics include the new blog, populism and international relations – and finding out with which early political theorist Michael would like to dine.
Find a short transcription of the interview below or listen to the full one here:
Iroulo: Could you briefly introduce the Global Governance Unit and the Blog?
Zürn: The Global Governance Unit at the WZB Berlin Social Science Centre consists of a group of scholars who work essentially on issues related to international institutions – such as how they work, what effect they have on world politics, and how they collaborate in a global governance system – as well as on the institutional theory of international politics. We are a lively and diverse group of approximately twenty-five people, consisting of doctoral students, postdocs, research assistants, and myself.