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Behind Structural Power Lies Structuring Power

This is a guest post by Henry Farrell, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at George Washington University, and Abraham Newman, Associate Professor in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and the Government Department at Georgetown University, as part of the Duck of Minerva’s Symposium on Structural Power and the Study of Business. This post draws on ideas developed at greater length in Farrell and Newman’s article found here. Links to other posts in the symposium can be found here.

Political scientists haven’t paid nearly enough attention to structural power over the last two decades. As Charles Lindblom argued, it is clear that firms have political power and influence that goes beyond their direct ability e.g. to put money behind ideas and politicians that they like. In a capitalist system, by definition, businesses make the final decisions about how capital is allocated. This means that politicians have to pay attention to their decisions, allowing businesses collectively and sometimes individually to shape the political agenda. Pepper Culpepper and his colleagues, both by drawing renewed attention to structural power, and by showing that it can vary across state, industry and context, are doing a lot to explain political outcomes that would otherwise remain mystifying.

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Structural Power in Latin America

This is a guest post by Tasha Fairfield, Assistant Professor in the Department of International Development at the London School of Economics and Political Science, as part of the Duck of Minerva’s Symposium on Structural Power and the Study of Business. This post draws on ideas developed at greater length in Fairfield’s article found here. Links to other posts in the symposium can be found here.

Taxation is a policy area rife with examples from around the world of the substantial influence that business can wield. Consider Latin America, a region known for phenomenal inequality and light taxation of income and wealth (much like the United States in recent years). Business has been particularly successful at securing favorable tax legislation in Chile­­––business owners who comprise the top 1% receive upwards of 22% of national income but paid average effective tax rates of roughly 15% (compare to 24% in the US in 2004).

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The Structural Power of Business as a Causal Hypothesis

This is a guest post by Kevin Young, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, as part of the Duck of Minerva’s Symposium on Structural Power and the Study of Business. This post draws on ideas developed at greater length in Young’s article found here. Links to other posts in the symposium can be found here.

We live in a civilization populated by an organizational form that has replicated itself throughout the world with incredible speed, voracity and flexibility. It might be the organizational form of our age. This organizational form organizes the wealth that society produces; its decisions determine whether people eat or starve; its machinations influence what kind of society is possible. Every large-scale policy must confront and engage with it. Indeed, most public policy is squarely focused on shaping its behavior. The greatest human talent of our age is subsumed within it and directed for its purposes.

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No Escape from Uncle Sam

This is a guest post by Patrick Emmenegger, Professor of Comparative Political Economy and Public Policy at the University of St. Gallen, as part of the Duck of Minerva’s Symposium on Structural Power and the Study of Business. This post draws on ideas developed at greater length in Emmenegger’s article found here. Links to other posts in the symposium can be found here.

The United States of America is the most powerful country in the world but when it comes to interactions with international banks, it looks surprisingly feeble – at least according to conventional wisdom. Two types of international banks seem beyond the reach of U.S. law enforcement authorities. On the one hand, some banks are primarily located in other countries and thus protected by these countries’ legal sovereignty. Absent international cooperation, these banks – although influencing international capital flows in important ways – seem beyond the reach of national law enforcement. On the other hand, the largest international banks are typically located on U.S. soil but considered to be “too big to fail.” Since their collapse could endanger the viability of the global financial system, these banks are off-limits for criminal prosecution, because history shows that criminal prosecution of such banks leads to their collapse.

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Structural Power and Contemporary Politics

This is a guest post by Pepper D. Culpepper, Professor of Political Science at the European University Institute, as part of the Duck of Minerva’s Symposium on Structural Power and the Study of Business. This post draws on ideas developed at greater length in Culpepper’s article found here. Links to other posts in the symposium can be found here.

Crises shake up the real world. Sometimes, they even shake up the world of political science. The recent global financial crisis and the ongoing bank and sovereign debt crisis associated with it in the Eurozone have led many scholars to reach back into the toolbox of structural power to help understand some puzzling developments. The symposium that is appearing this week brings together contributions from several scholars who have found this toolbox useful.

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Programming Note: Symposium on Structural Power and the Study of Business

This week the Duck will host a symposium on a recent special issue of Business and Politics on Structural Power and the Study of Business, which was guest-edited by Pepper Culpepper and published in October. De Gruyter has generously agreed to temporarily ungate the issue to correspond with this symposium; the articles may be found here.

Each day of the week will contain a post in the morning and the afternoon, written by the authors of the articles in the issue, with a concluding post discussing the project by Randall German. We hope you will join us in the comments as we go along. This note will be updated with links to each post as they appear, so as to serve as an archive of sorts. The full schedule is below the jump.

 

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Speaking Truth to Power: A Response to Walt’s Lamentations

This is a guest post from Eric Van Rythoven and Ty Solomon. Eric Van Rythoven is a PhD candidate at Carleton University studying emotion, world politics, and securitization. His work is published in Security Dialogue and European Journal of International Relations. Ty Solomon is a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Glasgow. He is the author of The Politics of Subjectivity in American Foreign Policy Discourses (2015, University of Michigan Press), and articles in International Studies Quarterly, European Journal of International Relations, and Review of International Studies, among others.

Two weeks ago, one of IR’s most respected and publicly visible intellectuals wrote a piece lamenting the absence of realist voices in American foreign policy discourse. In case you missed it Stephen Walt’s piece is worth reading in full, but here’s the money quote:

why is a distinguished and well-known approach to foreign policy confined to the margins of public discourse, especially in the pages of our leading newspapers, when its recent track record is arguably superior to the main alternatives?

Most of the praise (and snark) has sunk to the bottom of Twitter, but you can still see some of the popular responses here and here. As two academics who study realist political advocacy and American foreign policy discourse, we agree with Walt that realism is marginalized in public debates, at least in comparison to liberal internationalism or neoconservatism. But we’re also struck by how this discussion has missed the one of the most obvious answers as to why.

Realist discourse is marginalized because it’s not powerful.

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India, Air Pollution, and Climate Change

Over the winter break, I spent ten days in India, in the capital New Delhi and Mumbai. I was immediately struck by the awful air quality as I walked out of the airport in New Delhi. Delhi’s air quality is as bad or worse than Beijing’s, though perhaps that fact isn’t as widely known.

The air was visible and thick. I thought my glasses were dirty but then I realized that it was the haze which crept in to the interior halls of the hotel. I couldn’t capture the air quality in a photo but I found a perfect encapsulation reading Tom Hale’s fine book on global governance policy gridlock. I was struck by an excerpt he and his co-authors quoted from Charles Dickens’ Bleak House on 19th century London and the remarkable similarity of its acrid air to India’s:

Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards, and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little ’prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon, and hanging in the misty clouds.

The air pollution in Delhi was like this and underscored for me that the strongest impetus for action to deliver climate benefits will come because people in major cities across India such as Delhi, Lucknow, and Ahmedabad demand cleaner air.  Continue reading

Interested in critical international politics?

GregynogThe Gregynog Ideas Lab, a thinking space for scholars interested in studying global politics from a range of critical, postcolonial, feminist, post-structural and psychoanalytic traditions, takes place every summer at Gregynog Hall in mid-Wales (UK).

This unusual summer school offers a set of seminars & workshops, an artist-in-residence, methods training and one-on-one consultations to allow graduate students and established scholars to re-examine their own work, participate in ongoing conversations and meet new people who share an interest in critical international politics. Participants – both guest professors and students – come from various corners of the world and it is above all the informal and open atmosphere that is valued by all.

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Climate Change and Rethinking Success

Last week, at the invitation of colleagues in the Center for European and Transatlantic Studies and the Center for International Strategy, Technology, and Policy I participated on a panel discussing the 21st Conference of Parties (CoP21) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the resulting Paris Agreement. My comments focused on thinking about the nature of success in international negotiations over climate change.

In a number of ways, if we go by the standard of previous environmental pollution treaties the Paris Agreement does not look like a notable success, hedging as it does in terms of a binding commitment on the part of the signatories. Continue reading

Bringing Iran in From the Cold

Iran

Even as western sanctions are lifted in response to Iran’s dismantling crucial, large-scale elements of its nuclear facilities, critics continue to believe that Iran is preparing to cheat on the nuclear deal, is increasing its support of proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Houthis in Yemen, and is bent on achieving regional hegemony. But instead of taking Khamenei at his word, observers should focus on concrete actions rather than rhetoric that is meant largely for domestic consumption. This is especially critical in light of Iran’s upcoming elections, which will likely bring even more revolutionary rhetoric and hardline behavior.

We are at truly historic crossroads. Iran has complied with the nuclear deal in full up to this point, sooner and more comprehensively than expected. A number of Americans unlawfully detained by Iran are now home. And just when it appeared that Iranian hardliners would try to turn the perfect storm of U.S. swift boats errantly breaching Iranian territory into a deal breaker, Iran set the crews free in less than a day (and with all their gear intact). This action bodes well, even as Iran continues adhering to a pattern of “covering” its cooperative actions with seemingly harsh actions.

Why is Iran doing this, in particular when so many experts predicted that after the deal Iran would do the opposite of moderating its behavior? Far from black and white, Iran’s post-deal behavior has been a solid gray. And appearances can be deceiving, such as the large vocal demonstration at the old U.S. Embassy on the 36th anniversary of the Iran hostage crisis—not to mention the Supreme Leader telling his people that “Death to America” is a pillar of Iranian culture. However, the evidence demonstrates that Iran in fact has gradually been tacking in a more positive direction in terms of its net contribution to international order. Upon closer examination, Iran has been deftly balancing its cooperative behavior with a fair dose of uncooperative behavior, though the latter tends to be less consequential than the former. Frequently, a planned positive move is preempted with a negative red herring move, all by specific intention. Continue reading

Duckies 2016: Vote To Select the Finalists

cmc-viking-toy-duck_listinglargeThe Duckies have moved from Duck of Minerva to the ISA’s Online Media Caucus, but the process is mostly the same.  Vote for your favorite examples of outstanding Online Achievement in International Studies here.

What Role for Non-State Actors in the New Climate Governance?

This is a guest post from Jennifer Hadden, an Assistant Professor at the University of Maryland’s Department of Government and Politics. I had the pleasure of editing a reviews exchange on her new book,  Networks in Contention. The exchange just came out in the latest issue of International Politics Reviews  and features reviews from me (Josh), Thomas Hale, and Johannes Urpelainen, as well as a response from Hadden herself. Ungated access here.  

World leaders adopted a global agreement on climate change in Paris last month, as was widely reported. Less well know is that in parallel to the inter-state negotiations, the Paris conference included a high-level “Action Agenda” to recognize the commitments of non-state actors to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Action Agenda raised the profile of non-state actors within the UNFCCC, highlighting the critical role of cities, regions, businesses, faith groups, and NGOs in raising ambition, building knowledge, and supporting implementation.

The warm reception for non-state actors in Paris differs dramatically from the highly contentious environment of the Copenhagen climate summit, which I describe in my recent book Networks in Contention: The Divisive Politics of Climate Change. How has the role of non-state actors in climate governance evolved from Copenhagen to Paris? Continue reading

The Agency of Multilateral Organizations

This is a guest post from Tana Johnson, an Assistant Professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. I had the pleasure of editing a reviews exchange on her important new book, Organizational Progeny. The exchange just came out in the latest issue of International Politics Reviews and features reviews from me (Josh), Tanisha Fazal, and Alexandru Grigorescu, as well as a response from Johnson herself. Ungated access here.  

I’ve recently returned from Geneva, home to scores of international intergovernmental organizations (IGOs). It’s an intriguing place: unlike New York, which is overrun by international politics for a just a few weeks each autumn,  in Geneva international politics play out on every corner, on every day. The city is a hub for international policymaking in health, trade, human rightslabor, and countless other issue areas. So, can the IGOs that operate there, and elsewhere, act independently of their members? Or are they simply robots, mechanically doing what states want? Continue reading

Words Mean Things: The Beginnings of De-Gendering Democratic Citizenship

This is a guest post by Kyleanne Hunter, PhD Student and Research Fellow at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver

Yesterday it was discovered that Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has ordered the Marine Corps to both integrate their enlisted training and to create gender-neutral job titles.  This news comes on the heels of a passionate battle of words surrounding the integration of women into all Military Occupational Specialties (MOS).  This latest victory for those who recognize the value of women’s service is not limited to those in the service.  It is a large step forward for all women in America.

Democratic citizenship has long been tied to military service.[1]  Even as we have moved to an all-volunteer force, the rhetorical power of the citizen-solder has maintained its prominence in political debates.  This power has been instrumental in minority groups gaining full citizenship rights.  Yet there has been one group unable to harness this power – women.  Even as women have made great strides in military service, the hyper-masculinity of military culture and speech has made achieving parity very difficult for women.   While, on paper, in the USA women have equal rights as their male citizen counterparts, the reality is that women remain underrepresented economically, professionally, and politically.  In short, they aren’t able to realize the full benefits of citizenship in a liberal democracy.

While not a complete panacea, the move of opening all MOS’ to women, and requiring gender-neutral job titles is a big step in rectifying some of the challenges to complete citizenship women face.  One of the explanations for male-preference in citizenship can be traced to the positive association between masculinity and military service.[2]  If the best a citizen can be is a soldier, and the best a soldier can be is “manly,” clearly men are our best citizens.  This cognitive heuristic is reinforced by military language: infantry man, fly boy, armor man, “A Few Good Men.”  These words, so engrained in our sociopolitical lexicon that we hardly give them a second thought, have reinforced the patriarchal system of male-privileged citizenship.

It has been argued that removing the formal barriers to women’s service in all aspects of the military, including the Selective Service, is important for fulfilling the social contract between the citizen and the states.  Removing the informal ones is just as important. De-gendering the language of military service is a large step towards changing the culture that has created them.  Sociopolitical rhetoric doesn’t change overnight, but words means things.  By using gender-neutral terms we will begin to recognize the importance of all citizens contributions to our security.  The small act of removing “man” as a qualifier for military jobs as the power to change the citizenship dynamics for half the population.

[1] See: Krebs, Ronald R. Fighting for rights: military service and the politics of citizenship. Cornell University Press, 2006; Morgan, Matthew J. “The reconstruction of culture, citizenship, and military service.” Armed Forces & Society 29.3 (2003): 373-391; Salyer, Lucy E. “Baptism by Fire: Race, Military Service, and US Citizenship Policy, 1918–1935.” The Journal of American History 91.3 (2004): 847-876

[2] See: Arkin, William, and Lynne R. Dobrofsky. “Military socialization and masculinity.” Journal of Social Issues 34.1 (1978): 151-168; Hinojosa, Ramon. “Doing hegemony: Military, men, and constructing a hegemonic masculinity.” The Journal of Men’s Studies 18.2 (2010): 179-194; Snyder, R. Claire. Citizen-Soldiers and Manly Warriors: Military Service and Gender in the Civic Republican Tradition. Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.

 

*Kyleanne Hunter is currently a PhD Student at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver.  She spent more than a decade as a United States Marine Corps Officer, serving as a AH-1W “Super Cobra” pilot on multiple combat deployments, and the Marine Corps’ Liaison Officer to the House of Representatives. 

Duckies, nomination period extended

The new deadline is January 11th, so nominate away!

The Rule of Three

While it is hard to do and particularly hard to do while starting out, the general conventional wisdom (and wise it is) is that one should try to have three pieces under review at most/all times.  Why? Because academic review is a capricious enterprise that often takes much time.

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How stories matter: Thoughts on contextuality, temporality, reflexivity & certainty

In early September, the circulation of the now iconic picture of Alan Kurdi, the little Syrian Kurdish boy who drowned along with his mother and brother in the attempt to cross the Aegean Sea, prompted me to write a post reflecting on what ‘we’ as academics might do. I argued that we could, possibly, use “our knowledge of global affairs to connect the dots and lay bare how Alan’s story” is emblematic of so many themes we touch upon in our research – and indeed, the moment created by the (ethically difficult) circulation of the picture became an opening to provide depth and nuance for those willing to listen.

Screenshot 2015-12-29 16.25.39I suggested that, if academics wanted to do ‘something’ in response, this something might include telling “the stories of all the children who died crossing the Mediterranean – and their parents and grandparents, and aunts, and uncles.” Now, it would be presumptuous to think that Anne Barnard of the New York Times read my post (and she is not an academic either), but imagine my delight to see her piece on the Kurdi family’s journeys published yesterday.

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The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of High Tech War

 

In fall of 2014, former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced his plan to maintain US superiority against rising powers (i.e. Russia and China). His claim was that the US cannot lose its technological edge – and thus superiority – against a modernizing Russia and a rapidly militarizing China. To ensure this edge, he called for the “third Offset Strategy.”

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Friday Nerd Blogging: Early But Sans Spoilers

We have not Friday Nerd Blogged in a while, and we are reluctant to do anything that might spoil the Force Awakens.  Yet, my grading is done and my enthusiasm is making the Kessel Run in record time, so here’s a non-spoilery bit of joy that is early and excessive.  May the Force Be With You as you grade and travel over the holidays.

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