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Governing the Global Polity

Practice, Mentality, Rationality

Iver B. Neumann and Ole Jacob Sending

Publication Year: 2010

There have been many attempts to adapt Foucault's arguments to the study of international relations, but this powerful and provocative book is the most sustained, and arguably the most successful in showing how the governmentality approach can be adapted to the analysis of global politics. ---Barry Hindess, Research School of Social Sciences, The Australian National University A highly welcome and original contribution to contemporary debates on the shape and future of the international system and on the possibility of reconfiguring IR theory as social theory." ---Mathias Albert, Bielefeld University, Germany "Iver Neumann and Ole Jacob Sending have put meat on the bones of Michel Foucault's notion of governmentality, fulfilling the hopes of long-famished students and scholars of global governance. Through their focus on specific case studies, the authors have provided a much-needed contribution to the international relations literature, one that is sure to become a staple of courses and seminars throughout the world." ---Ronnie D. Lipschutz, University of California, Santa Cruz What does globalization mean for the principle of state sovereignty and for the power and functioning of states? Whereas realists assert the continued importance of states, constructivists contend that various political entities as well as the logic of globalization itself undermine state sovereignty. Drawing on the state formation literature and on social theory, particularly the works of Weber and Foucault, Iver B. Neumann and Ole Jacob Sending question the terms of the realist-constructionist debate. Through detailed case studies, they demonstrate that states use nongovernmental organizations and international organizations indirectly to enforce social order and, ultimately, to increase their own power. At the same time, global politics is dominated by a liberal political rationality that states ignore at their peril. While states remain as strong as ever, they operate within a global polity of new hierarchies among states and between states and other actors. Iver B. Neumann is Director of Research at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs and Professor of Russian Studies at the University of Oslo. Ole Jacob Sending is Senior Researcher at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs, where he heads the Research Programme on Global Governance and International Organizations. Cover art credit: © iStockphoto.com/Will Evans Also available as an e-book.

Published by: University of Michigan Press


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p. v

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-viii

This book is about how states govern at a distance, through other types of agents. One such agent is the academic community. The book has its origins in academic resistance to governmentality in Norway. There exists apeculiar Scandinavian institution whereby the state pays a clutch of establishment researchers to write R&D-style analyses of how power works in...

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pp. 1-17

Globalization changes what the state does, and how the state does it.Those who hold that the state remains the same—realists being prominent among them—overlook the kind of empirical evidence that we present below. Even more important, they overlook the fact that something does exist “above” the state: a liberal rationality of government. Those who...

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1. Foucault's Concept of Governmentality: Emergence, Purchase, Promise

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pp. 18-45

The concept of gouvernementalit

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2. Global Politics as Governmentality

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pp. 46-69

When applied to contemporary global politics, the governmentality perspective poses a challenge not only to the literature on global governance but to conceptualizations of global politics overall. In this chapter, we place the concept of governmentality in relation to dominant strands of thought within the discipline of international relations...

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3. Governing a Great Power: Russia's Oddness Reconsidered

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pp. 70-109

We have argued that governmentality may be used as a full-fledged perspective from which to analyze global politics, and juxtaposed it to traditional perspectives, which share a starting point in taking the state as the basic unit and the states system as the basic structure (chap. 2). If the governmentality perspective is to complement state-based...

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4. Nongovernmental Organizations: From Sovereignty to Liberal Governmentality

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pp. 110-131

Studies of global governance were very much triggered by a related debateon the sources and effects of processes of globalization (Held and McGrew 2000; Hirst and Thompson 1996; Keohane and Milner 1996). Protoformulations about global governance-type networks and processes are found in regime theory (Holsti 1992; Krasner 1983).1 ...

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5. International Organizations: Liberalism, Sovereignty, and Police

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pp. 132-156

International organizations (IOs) have been a consistent focal point for contrasting views on such fundamental issues as international order, the prospects for international cooperation, and the sources of potential changes in state interests (Ruggie and Kratochwil 1986; Keohane 1984;Moravcsik 1999; Risse 2000). The contrast between theorists privileging...

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Conclusion: Liberal Sovereignty in the Global Polity

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pp. 157-182

We began by introducing the concept of governmentality and the possibility of developing it as a perspective on global politics overall (chap. 1). Since this perspective may strike most IR scholars as being a rather novel one, we read it against Hans Morgenthau’s perspective (chap. 2). We found that, primarily due to the shared Weberian roots where the...


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pp. 183-200


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pp. 201-211

E-ISBN-13: 9780472022458
E-ISBN-10: 0472022458
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472050932
Print-ISBN-10: 0472050931

Page Count: 216
Illustrations: 1 Table
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 655247547
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Governing the Global Polity

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Political science.
  • Geopolitics.
  • Globalization.
  • Non-governmental organizations.
  • International agencies.
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