Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Workshop: Liquid Authority in Global Governance

On January 11, 2014, the Institut Barcelona d’Estudis Internacionals (IBEI) will host a workshop on "Liquid Authority in Global Governance." All those wishing to attend are requested to contact Tania Foix at The program is here. Here's the idea:
In recent years, the study of global governance has made much progress in charting the variety of ways in which rules, norms and decisions are produced in the global realm. Yet while this work exhibits processes and institutional structures quite unlike traditional international organizations – and very different from those we know from the domestic sphere – much of the conceptual apparatus of the field remains bound up with traditional models. In theorizing authority, compliance, accountability, legitimacy or law, the focus is typically on 'solid' structures: norms and institutions of a relatively fixed and distinct nature, understood as producing independent effects on states and other actors. This orientation not only leaves out of sight large parts of governance beyond the state, but also tends to obscure the analytical, normative and institutional challenges we are facing. This workshop inquires into whether an explicit focus on 'liquid authority' might provide a better frame. Liquidity in this context is understood in four inter-related dimensions: informality, ideational character, fleetingness, and multiplicity. In its extreme form, it is reflected in governance processes without a clear center, dispersed over a multitude of actors and institutions (public and private) without a formal ascription of authority, never bundled in an identifiable decision, and achieving effects through uncoercive, often nudging or ideational means. The workshop will explore the concept of authority, the shape of liquid governance, and implications for legitimacy and accountability of a turn towards ‘liquid authority’.