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Pathways and mechanisms - Current Projects

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The Populist Lure: Images, Emotions, and Narratives

This project focuses on the growing appeal of populist movements in most Western liberal democracies. More precisely, it looks at the rise of backlash movements which attract citizens by arousing fear of immigrants, celebrating indignation against political elites, and telling stories about a harmonious past of closed national communities. The project analyses in which ways images, emotions and narratives are used by populist activists and politicians and asks if similar modes of persuasion can (and should?) be used by those defending liberal democracy and transnational cooperation. 

Keywords  Populism, Nationalism, Images, Narrative, Emotion

Communication in the World Bank and UNDP

Specific forms of organizational knowledge have emerged over time, establishing organizational identities and trajectories. Taking the example of two major development organizations, the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme, the main focus of this project is on their understanding of development in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In order to reconstruct how the World Bank and UNDP have integrated the SDGs into their organizational profiles, the project investigates different forms of communication that these organizations employ to stabilize, legitimize and interact with their environment (such as documents, statistics, indicators, pictures etc.). 

Keywords  Development; Sustainable Development Goals; Organization Theory; World Bank; UNDP; Poverty; Communication; Trajectories

The Role of International Institutions in a Stratified Global Order

Katja Freistein and Caroline Fehl (Peace Research Institute Frankfurt)

The Project is concerned with the inequality effects of international institutions. Drawing on sociological literature about (social) inequalities, we identify processes and mechanisms within and between international institutions that (re)produce or transform global inequalities. The potential trade-off between cooperation outcomes and inequality outcomes of institutional operations is an important observation that has been largely neglected by students of global politics. We aim to generate a model for empirical research that allows for observations across institutional fields and remains open for various research perspectives and methodological approaches. 

Keywords  International Institutions; Global Stratification; Inequalities; Social Mechanisms

The Institutionalization Effect of Global Indicators

Katja Freistein

The proliferation of rankings, indices, indicators and other forms of mostly quantified knowledge is an emerging field of research across different disciplines. Beyond their external effects, which are often at the centre of attention in these studies, indicators also have social functions for their producers – often international organisations. One of the main claims of the project is that the production and communication of indicators has become integral to the social reproduction of international organisation. This means, for the sake of internal and external (self-)legitimation, competition with other organisations and as vital means of communication, indicators have become indispensable.

Keywords  International Organizations; Organization theory; Governmentality; Indicators

Micro-Practices in International Institutions

Katja Freistein with alumni fellows Alejandro Esguerra and Stefan Groth

Understanding the recent turn towards 'micro-moves' as a starting point, the project investigates what micro-observations mean for the analysis of institutional processes. The mundane practices of international institutions, such as producing documents and standardized knowledge, are subject to new forms of investigations by micro-focused researchers. The project is interested in the implications their findings will have for institutionalist research, for instance about membership in organizations or the character of negotiations. The project aims at generating new insights into the ontological foundations of institutions as well as epistemological implications for future research.

Keywords  Micro-foundations; International Institutions; Documents

Community and world society: Theorizing solidarity

Going back to Ferdinand Tönnies, the notion of community has been adopted in many different research fields (e.g. migration, nationalism, welfare states) where it has experienced scathing criticisms yet never completely vanished. I argue that in order to be complete, a theory of modern world society needs a concept of community that theorizes solidary social relationships. Building on organizational theory, I offer a precise notion of communities as social collectives that generate resources for their own members. This concept applies to collectives from the micro level (families) to the meso (nations) and macro level (supranational regional organizations). With relation to global cooperation, it sheds new light on the extent and limits of willingness to cooperate.

Keywords  community; theory of organizations; solidarity; regionalism; world society

Key concepts and policy analysis in international development politics (habilitation thesis)

Bettina Mahlert

The idea of the project is to bring together two mostly unconnected approaches from the sociology of development. Using different themes as examples, I combine an approach informed by the sociology of knowledge with a problem-oriented perspective on development. I expect that both perspectives benefit from incorporating insights of the other. Several themes relate to the cluster „Pathways of Global Cooperation“. For example, I discuss scenarios as techniques for projecting future pathways of cooperation, and I argue that a process-oriented view on poverty and wealth offers fresh perspectives on development cooperation. 

Keywords  sociology of development; quantification; sociology of knowledge; poverty; wealth; inequality; universalism; development cooperation

The Role of Cities in Managing Migration: Some Experiences from the Global South

Marianne H. Marchand

The management of migration is still seen as an issue to be dealt with at the federal level by the central government. Yet as the literature on cities and globalization reveals, cities have an important role to play with respect to migration. While attention has focused in particular on how global cities in the Global North have developed local strategies to deal with migration-related issues, ranging from measures aiming at the inclusion of migrants irrespective of their legal status to repressive measures of controlling and banning migrants and their access to urban areas, less attention has been focused on (globalizing) cities in the Global South. Yet, these cities are (also) important nodes in migratory flows and their roles and policy responses need to be further analyzed.  For this project, I am interested in the umbrella topic of what types of migration related challenges affect cities in the Global South and what policy strategies have they developed to deal with such challenges. More specifically, I am looking to build on and further develop a previous research project which analyzed how three Mexican cities, Puebla, Monterrey and Tijuana, have developed policies toward different migration related issues. This earlier research indicates that these cities are nodes in multiple migration flows: rural-urban, skilled immigration (domestic and from the Global North), transit (from Central America but also from other continents), emigration, and return migration. These cities’ experiences and policy initiatives serve to further explore cities’ roles and contributions as actors in the global governance of managing migration. 

Keywords  Cities; managing migration; global South; Mexico; migration assemblages

Pathways of Transnational Governance

This project examines the long-term dynamics of authority relations within and across fields of transnational governance from a longitudinal and comparative perspective. Drawing on a pragmatist institutionalist conceptualization of transnational governance as an open-ended process of institutional development, regulatory standard setting in selected transnational governance fields is studied along three analytical dimensions: the inclusiveness / exclusiveness of transnational governance organizations; organizational and normative fragmentation / integration within and across transnational governance fields; and recursivity between global standard setting and local implementation and usages with organizations and fields. Based on this three-dimensional analysis, the project develops a typology of trajectories of transnational governance, understood as stylized, ideal-typical processes leading from a starting condition to a specific transnational governance constellation and evaluates their implications for debates on effectiveness and legitimacy of transnational governance.

Keywords  Transnational, Governance, Standard setting, Pathways

What NGOs Do - Organizing Transnational Governance

It is now widely accepted that Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs) play a key role in global cooperation. But very little is known so far about how NGOs exactly make a difference in transnational governance arrangements, through which channels and with what consequences NGOs shape rule-setting and implementation across nation state borders. Based on a literature review and a novel mapping exercise of NGOs in a number of selected governance fields, the proposed project will analyze in-depth the processes, channels, social mechanisms and consequences of NGO activity in transnational governance. Research is organized around five key activities of NGOs: Organizing, networking, mobilizing, governing, employing. Building on a systematization of existing research, hitherto scattered across different academic disciplines, the project aims to build an integrated conceptual framework and research design for understanding what NGOs actually do that makes them so salient and important for global cooperation.

Keywords NGOs, global cooperation, transnational governance, organizing, networking, mobilizing, governing, employing

A Critical Analysis of Cooperative Approaches to Climate Change Mitigation under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement

This project aims to develop a dynamic understanding of global cooperation in the governance of climate change mitigation. It first analyses how cooperative implementation mechanisms established by the Kyoto Protocol explain the trajectory of gloomy global cooperation in the governance of climate change mitigation. Then, it checks the effectiveness of the cooperative approaches provided by Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Successful instances and failed attempts of global cooperation as well as their impacts on further cooperation are investigated to shed light on the durability, reversibility, linearity or changeability of global governance arrangements in the field of climate change mitigation. 

Keywords  global cooperation; implementation mechanisms; cooperative approaches; climate change mitigation; Paris Agreement; trajectory; pathways

Pity and fear. Sentimental education and sentimental propaganda in the refugee crisis

The project focuses on the transformation of emotions as one potential pathway to societal change. It explores how emotions are shaped in the context of the “refugee crisis”: Anti-immigration activists recur to fear (of crime or loss of identity) as a legitimation of their activism. The pro-asylum movements, in turn, rely on the emotion of compassion. Both groups not only refer to these emotions, but also try to arouse them in others, e.g. through rhetoric, public art or documentaries. The project takes stock of these attempts of sentimental education (R. Rorty) and, in a second step, assesses their normative desirability.

Keywords  Refugee crisis; moral revolutions; sentimental education; emotions