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Perils and Promise of Global Transparency, The

Why the Information Revolution May Not Lead to Security, Democracy, or Peace

Kristin M. Lord

Publication Year: 2006

While the trend toward greater transparency will bring many benefits, Kristin M. Lord argues that predictions that it will lead inevitably to peace, understanding, and democracy are wrong. The conventional view is of authoritarian governments losing control over information thanks to technology, the media, and international organizations, but there is a darker side, one in which some of the same forces spread hatred, conflict, and lies. In this book, Lord discusses the complex implications of growing transparency, paying particular attention to the circumstances under which transparency’s effects are negative. Case studies of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the government of Singapore’s successful control of information are included.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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The Perils and Promise of Global Transparency

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p. iii


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p. vii

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pp. ix-x

I owe a great deal of thanks to many people. For commenting on early drafts of the manuscript—the most painful to read—I thank Robin Brown of the University of Leeds, who also was kind enough to host a helpful seminar with his students. I would also like to thank George Rwanda case study (and for taking the time to read the chapter while actually in Rwanda doing fieldwork); an anonymous journalist from...

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1. The Complexity of Transparency

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pp. 1-21

In November 2002, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) broke out in the Guangdong Province of China. The virus ultimately killed nearly 800 people, and infected approximately ten times that number around the world.3 The Chinese government initially ignored the disease. However, though the government issued no official reports during...

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2. Transparency and Conflict

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pp. 23-43

Uncertainty is dangerous, according to the conventional wisdom regarding international politics. Uncertainty about how others could use their military power leads states to regard all power as a potential threat, regardless of who bears that power. This makes states perpetually insecure and leads them to spend money on guns rather...

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3. Transparency and Intergroup Violence

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pp. 45-68

Knowledge of other peoples and cultures can promote cooperation and peace, according to widespread opinion. When people see that they share a common human experience, that information humanizes those who seem different and makes people less willing to use force to resolve conflicts. When people understand each other better, they may...

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4. Transparency and Conflict Intervention

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pp. 69-89

The trend toward greater transparency should facilitate earlier and more frequent intervention by third parties who wish to stop violent conflicts in other parts of the world, according to conventional wisdom. Governments have access to more information about foreign disputes, which should help them to identify trouble spots and to intervene before...

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5. Transparency and Governance

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pp. 91-114

Greater transparency is a boon for democracy and good governance, according to most observers. The trend toward greater transparency diffuses control over information and, in so doing, takes power from the strong and gives it to the weak and disenfranchised. This reallocation of power occurs within states, allowing citizens to challenge or even topple authoritarian regimes.3 Greater transparency also strengthens...

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6. Global Implications of Growing Transparency

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pp. 115-132

This book challenges the conventional wisdom regarding transparency and argues that it is not an unmitigated good. If the trend toward greater transparency continues, it will transform international politics by reducing uncertainty, helping people know each other better, and decentralizing power—but the implications of those developments...


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pp. 133-187


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pp. 189-194

E-ISBN-13: 9780791481103
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791468852
Print-ISBN-10: 0791468852

Page Count: 208
Illustrations: 2 tables, 1 figure
Publication Year: 2006

OCLC Number: 76821793
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Perils and Promise of Global Transparency, The

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • World politics -- 21st century
  • Transparency in government.
  • Freedom of information.
  • Information society.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access