InHouse&Guests Workshop

Studying Micro-Practices in (International) Institutions: Chances and Limitations of Theory-Building

26–27 November 2015

This workshop brought together a multi-disciplinary set of tools, ideas and research-practices in order to inquire into institutional micro-practices and to reflect on the potentials and limits of abstraction from ethnographic or linguistic observations.
What constitutes international institutions? What is their fabric, how do they operate, and how are they socially constructed? While different disciplines have grappled with these questions and offer theories of different range to account for the social characteristics and operations of international institutions, organisations and their actors, many of these theories are fraught with conceptual premises and prior assumptions that may or may not correspond to empirical observations. Particularly International Relations have made sense of international institutions by relying on large-scale theories that translate assumptions about global order to the institutional settings of international organisations.

But what if we attempt to reconceive of world order and international institutions from the perspective of micro-analysis? Can we theorise this macro-order as both a product of and being endogenous to micro-situations? Vice versa, what is the reach of micro-analytic observations and ethnographic approaches vis-à-vis phenomena we consider to be situated on the macro-level? These questions can – and should – be posed from an interdisciplinary vantage point. The common aim was to reflect on the chances and challenges of building theories based on micro-analysis. Participants introduced their assumptions and theoretical heuristics when practicing empirical research and theorising their work.

The workshop was organised by Alejandro Esguerra, Katja Freistein (both Centre for Global Cooperation Research, University of Duisburg-Essen), and Stefan Groth (formerly Göttingen University/Centre for Global Cooperation Research).

Venue: Käte Hamburger Kolleg/Centre for Global Cooperation Research, Schifferstr. 44, Duisburg