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Departmental Seminar: Constitution and Contestation of Norms in Global Governance

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Professor Wiener will speak about research in progress on her new book titled Constitution and Contestation of Norms in Global Governance, which is under contract with Cambridge University Press. The talk will address the main argument developed by the book.

Once norms lose normative clout, they are likely to turn into political hazards. This is in part due to the uneven perseverance of norms in time and space. Due to the social quality of norms, it follows that in order to understand how norms work, human perception is key. Human agency is therefore a central factor for norms research. This agentic aspect is enhanced by diverse effects of globalisation which are gaining in impact notwithstanding the formal validation of treaty norms and their social recognition by selected social groups. Despite formal agreement on treaties and taken-for-grantedness of certain fundamental norms, a legitimacy gap remains at the meso-level between fundamental norms and standardised rules. As recent results of elections and referendums demonstrate quite dramatically, this gap widens with the parallel development of globalised interaction (whether practised locally or globally) and individual political estrangement (whether due to social mobility or cultural diversity). As such the gap therefore represents a threat to the normative pull of international norms. This threat is notable in moments where meanings of norms are contested. The potential for normative conflict therefore grows in time, unless steps are undertaken to counter this development. To assess the role of global governance institutions as mechanisms to enhance normative legitimacy, the talk addresses the interplay between diversity and normativity as two central premises of global governance, and scrutinises the terms of engagement from the perspective of agency at sites of contestation where citizens and learned scholars intersect. The talk draws on international relations theory and James Tully’s Public Philosophy in a New Key. It proposes a novel focus on agency based on three practices of norm validation which distinguish between formal, habitual and cultural validation.

About Professor Wiener

Antje Wiener was made a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences (FAcSS) in the United Kingdom in 2011. She received her PhD in Political Science from Carleton University, Canada in 1996 and her MA (DiplPol) in Political Science at the Free University of Berlin in 1989. Prior to coming to Germany in 2009 she taught in Canada, the US and the UK, where she held Chairs of Political Science and International Relations at the Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Bath.

Her research and teaching interests are in international relations theories (IR), especially norms research, contestation research, global governance and global constitutionalism. She has served as Managing Director of the Centre for Globalisation and Governance CGG) in Hamburg in 2009-10 and 2011-12, currently leads the CGG ’s Research Area 4 on Global Constitutionalism, Governance and World Society, and is founding editor of Global Constitutionalism: Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law (Cambridge since 2012).

This talk is part of the All POLIS Department Seminars and Events series.

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