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While existing scholarship is correct in stressing that policymakers pursue their interests on the global stage, the overall result is definitely not one of Pareto-optimizing rational design. We argue that global policies form protean patchworks of governance practices and competing universal value claims. Governance practices can be defined as socially meaningful patterns of action that are constitutive of the policymaking process, including its shifting playing field. Values, which capture the ideological dimension of policymaking, refer to the normative beliefs that inform the definition of global problems and the formulation of solutions. We use preliminary evidence to illustrate the value of our framework. We then offer methodological advice to assist in the empirical study and operationalization of governance practices and universal value debates. By identifying prevalent practices, our framework captures the dialectics of inclusion and exclusion, while also making sense of historical shifts in dominant modes of global governance. When it comes to value debates, our framework illuminates the persistence of social conflict as the normal and expected condition of global policymaking. Normative patchworks are generated by global governors out of multidimensional ideological cleavages.
This chapter flashes back to the first days of Sophie’s employment at the ICJ registry, and sees her and her girlfriend Norma mull over the socio-professional features of the international judicial community. The chapter lays the theoretical foundations of the book and provides the reader with pointers to interpret the unfolding of judicial proceedings. The international judicial community has a twofold structure, at once cooperative and competitive. On the one hand, its members work together to secure control on courts and tribunals and insulate their internal activities from outside interference. On the other hand, community members ceaselessly strive to maximize their relative capital in a ruthless struggle for authority and prestige. The practices of the community are patterned, as they present regularities over time; they are competent, as they rest on collective background knowledge; and they weave together the discursive and the material world. Thus, community practices are the vehicle of both continuity and change, constraint and freedom in international adjudication.
This introduction lays out the book’s aims and its approach to studying reparations. The book uses the notion of ‘practices’ as an analytical lens to make visible forms of social actions that together and simultaneously enable and constrain reparations. The book examines these practices through four phases of the ‘social life’ of reparations: norm-making, engagement with conflict-affected populations, as well as adjudication and implementation of reparations. Accompanying the introduction is a brief background to the case studies that are at the core of this book, namely the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC). The book focuses on the first two cases at each court that have reached the reparations stage: at the ICC, the cases against Thomas Lubanga and Germain Katanga relating to the situation in Ituri, Democratic Republic of Congo; and at the ECCC, Cases 001 and 002 involving senior leaders of the Khmer Rouge and those most responsible for crimes committed in Cambodia during the 1970s.
The chapter centres on the notion of repetition and takes it as the key concept of practice theory. It explores the translocal character of practice with regard to transnational diplomatic negotiations in the UNESCO World Heritage Programme. First, the chapter addresses a widespread bias towards stability and reproduction of the social in practice theory, points towards the need to take account of the dynamics of the social, and develops a poststructuralist understanding of repetition. The second part outlines three related dimensions of repetition and spells out their methodological implications for practice theory. By thinking of practices in terms of repetitions that link different sites and instances, the methodology of practice theory is to follow the fragile relations which make up the (in)stability of the social, enabling it to grasp the specific contributions of bodies and material artefacts. Drawing on data from a long-term participant observation, the final part of the chapter puts this methodology to work by analysing continuity and change in international diplomacy, looking at the interwoven diplomatic practices of negotiating, drafting, and decision-making.
This book brings together the key scholars in the international practice debate to demonstrate its strengths as an innovative research perspective. The contributions show the benefit of practice theories in the study of phenomena in international security, international political economy and international organisation, by directing attention to concrete and observable everyday practices that shape international outcomes. The chapters exemplify the cross-overs and relations to other theoretical approaches, and thereby establish practice theories as a distinct IR perspective. Each chapter investigates a key concept that plays an important role in international relations theory, such as power, norms, knowledge, change or cognition. Taken together, the authors make a strong case that practice theories allow to ask new questions, direct attention to uncommon empirical material, and reach different conclusions about international relations phenomena. The book is a must read for anyone interested in recent international relations theory and the actual practices of doing global politics.
Chapter 3 unpacks why national judges broadly eschewed turning to European law and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) when doing so could bolster their own power. It reveals historically rooted practices and knowledge deficits embodied in the trudge of daily work within civil service judiciaries that fostered what I call an “institutional consciousness” of path dependence: An accrued social identity tied to institutional place that magnifies the reputational risks and labor costs of mobilizing European law. This consciousness reifies judges’ sense of distance to Europe, legitimating a renouncement of agency and resistance to change. The core of this chapter revolves around interviews and oral histories with 134 judges across French, Italian, and German courts, contextualized via ethnographic fieldnotes, descriptive statistics, and secondary sources. The chapter will speak to readers interested in a historical and sociological understanding of what path dependence looks, sounds, and feels like in the courthouse, why judges in civil service judiciaries can be likened to street-level bureaucrats, and how immersive fieldwork can illuminate the habitual practices calcifying the behaviors and identities of judges.
This chapter presents the theoretical framework for understanding the evolution of postcolonial liberation wars. The book uses theory as a lens through which to examine postcolonial liberation struggles. It employs ideas from theories of practices and roles in international politics to shed new light about the evolution of postcolonial separatist violence, and about our understanding of colonialism and decolonisation.
The formation of postcolonial states in Asia, Africa and the Middle East gave birth to prolonged separatist wars between separatist groups in the periphery and the new, still insecure central governments. This book explores these liberation wars, aiming to provide new insights into their roots and evolution. Rather than focusing on the causes of conflict, the book focuses on the governments’ and insurgents’ strategies and policies. The book’s central argument is that we could best understand these strategies as having been shaped by the struggle against European colonialism. The practices and roles that emerged during that period survived into the postcolonial era, moulding the identities, aims and strategies of both governments and rebels. Therefore, the book suggests that theories of practice and roles in international politics serve as a sound theoretical framework for the empirical analysis of the case studies. The book examines two cases of postcolonial separatist wars: the conflict in Northern Iraq between the government and Kurdish separatists and in Southern Sudan between black separatists and the government in Khartoum. The analysis of these two cases relies on extensive field and archival research. Thus, the book sheds new light on the history and nature of these separatist conflicts.
This chapter introduces the study and its approach to examining African peacekeeping. The book is framed around two central arguments. The first is the importance of emphasising and understanding historical legacies and the European colonial enterprise when exploring and analysing African peacekeeping. The second is that African peacekeeping is best understood through the lens of practice theory, an approach which allows the authors to demonstrate just how deeply embedded in both domestic and foreign policy-making peacekeeping has become across the continent over time. The introduction then goes on to outline the data and source material which the book draws on – which includes over ten years’ worth of fieldwork data collected by the authors – and provides a chapter-by-chapter summary of the book’s structure and argument.
In Chapter 2, I draw from pragmatist philosophy and relational sociology to develop a new theory of normativity and institutional change. I propose the concept of a normative configuration as an alternative to the concept of a norm, defined as an arrangement of ongoing, interacting practices establishing action-specific regulation, value-orientation, and avenues of contestation. I argue that situated creativity, problem-solving, and the institutionalisation of action establish normativity within enduring social arrangements. This alternative conception helps clarify the origins of normativity in situations where existing IR theory is limiting, as I show through a review of scholarship on norms drawn both from the field of IR and from the social sciences and humanities more broadly. To develop this new concept, I draw heavily from the work of John Dewey, Hans Joas, and the insights of practice theorists.
In this Introduction to the book, I raise the question of the possible erosion of prohibitions on assassination, torture, and mercenarism. I discuss the limits of ‘norm death’ as an explanation and propose instead that a ‘normative transformation’ has occurred. I outline how pragmatism, practice theory, and relational sociology will inform my perspective, how I will critique and build on theories of norm change in IR, and how I will analyse the three cases: the USA’s targeted killing programme, the CIA’s detention and interrogation programme, and the USA’s extensive employment of armed contractors in war zones.
In Chapter 3, I propose three causal mechanisms to explain the normative transformations I investigate: convention reorientation, technological revision, and network synthesis. These capture the causal role played by processes of discursive contestation, technical development, and bureaucratic politics. Crucially, I propose that these mechanisms interweave, in an arrangement of reciprocal reinforcement. I also propose a three-stage analytical process for analysing cases such as the ones in this book: de-reification, attributing agency, and tracing transactions. This process allows investigators to ‘break down’ supposed norms into their constitutive and unfolding relations, locate sources of transformative power, and trace how that power operated to
produce a change. I contextualise both the mechanisms and the analytical method with reference to relational sociology, practice theory, and scholarship on institutions.
Pratt investigates the potential erosion of prohibiting assassination, torture, and mercenarism during the US's War on Terrorism. In examining the emergence and history of the US's targeted killing programme, detention and interrogation programme, and employment of armed contractors in warzones, he proposes that a 'normative transformation' has occurred, which has changed the meaning and content of these prohibitions, even though they still exist. Drawing on pragmatist philosophy, practice theory, and relational sociology, this book develops a new theory of normativity and institutional change, and offers new data about the decisions and activities of security practitioners. It is both a critical and constructive addition to the current literature on norm change, and addresses enduring debates about the role of culture and ethical judgement in the use of force. It will appeal to students and scholars of foreign and defence policy, international relations theory, international security, social theory, and American politics.
This chapter deals with the role practice theory has played and can play in developing routine dynamics and the community of scholars associated with Routine Dynamics. It provides a short introduction to practice theory. It presents an analysis of how scholars in the field of Routine Dynamics relied on practice theory to build the foundation of the field and how scholars have continued to engage practice theory as the field has grown. The chapter ends with suggestions for how practice theory could help Routine Dynamics address questions of wide social relevance.
Over the last two decades, Routine Dynamics has emerged as an international research community that shares a particular approach to organizational phenomena. At the heart of this approach is an interest in examining the emergence, reproduction, replication and change of routines as recognizable patterns of actions. In contrast to other research communities interested in those phenomena, Routine Dynamics studies are informed by a distinctive set of theories (especially practice theory and related process-informed theories). This Handbook offers both an accessible introduction to core concepts and approaches in Routine Dynamics as well as a comprehensive and authoritative overview of research in different areas of Routine Dynamics. The chapters of this Handbook are structured around four core themes: 1) Theoretical resources for research on the dynamics of routines, 2) Methodological issues in studying the dynamics routines, 3) Themes in Routine Dynamics research and 4) Relation of Routine Dynamics to other communities of thought.
Landscape archaeology has been widely used as a framework for understanding the myriad ways in which people lived in their natural and built environments. In this study, we use systematic survey data in conjunction with ceramic chronology building to explore how residents of the Lion Mountain area in Central New Mexico created and sustained community landscapes over time as memories and stories became linked with specific places. We combine practice theory with the concept of social memory to show that these residents used their community landscape to both maintain and transform community identity over multiple generations. To strengthen our argument, we use a dual temporal approach, considering our data both by “looking back” and “looking forward” in time relative to the residents living on the landscape. Ultimately, we argue that residents of the Lion Mountain Community lived and died within a community landscape of their making. This community landscape, which was maintained and transformed through collective memory, included significant landmarks and entailed participation in specific networks, helping to reinforce community identity over time.
This article argues that communities of practice (CoPs) provide IR with a unique way to understand how a small group of committed people can make a difference to international politics. The point is addressed in three steps. First, the article advances our understanding of how CoPs work. While at its core a CoP is a group of people brought together by a practice they enjoy, a CoP also shares a sense of timing, placing, and humour. These aspects help the group anchor, refine, and innovate their practice in the face of challenges and uncertainty. Second, the article contrasts the analysis of CoPs with other IR approaches, especially institutional analysis, network analysis, and epistemic communities, to show how CoPs supplement them. Third, the article illustrates the argument with the example of the EU foreign policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It concludes by suggesting that a CoP's perspective not only helps IR better understand informal politics, but also opens up conversations across disciplines.
Chapter 2 makes the case for looking at state sovereignty as a social construction rather than as a definitional absolute. In other words, it argues that “sovereignty” does not have a specific meaning, defined by law or concept and static over time. Rather, it is a practice, and the content of sovereignty as a practice changes over time. The chapter reviews various ways in which sovereignty is understood in international relations, and the analytical utility and limitations of using the concept in these ways. It discusses the Peace of Westphalia in this context, since “Westphalian sovereignty” is a sufficiently common trope in international relations theory that it cannot be ignored (this discussion reappears in various places throughout the book), and argues that the Peace actually has fairly little to do with the contemporary practice of state soveriegnty. It also briefly discusses methodology, and how understanding sovereignty as a social construct can address questions of both power in and change of sovereignty in ways that conceptualizing sovereignty as a definitional absolute cannot.
Chapter 4 unpacks and illustrates the idea of the sovereignty cartel. It looks at some of the individual-level practices through which the sovereignty cartel is reconstituted in the daily conduct of international politics. The chapter makes the connection between sovereignty as an abstract concept and the actual people who act on the international stage in the name of that concept. It complicates the idea of property rights by discussing the responsibilities that are often part and parcel of rights. These property rights include responsibilities to other sovereigns, but also include responsibilities to the citizenries in whose name states rule. In addition, the chapter provides examples of the sovereignty cartel in action, drawn from a variety of issues, including multilateral participation, human rights, and the governance of the global commons. These all show ways in which sovereign right involves specific and historically contingent claims by states, and requires of those states specific behaviors, rather than being a generic claim that can be understood and studied out of context.
Chapter 9 addresses the “So what?” question: what do we learn from studying sovereignty through a property rights lens? One key upshot of the argument is that changes in international patterns of economic regulation and use of force are not necessarily indicative of either the strength of or the content of claims of sovereign right. Sovereignty maintains its centrality in the international system not only (arguably not even primarily) through the practice of governance, but also through collusion to reinforce a normative structure of sovereign right. The chapter concludes with some thoughts about the “So what?” question for international relations theorists. For theorists of foreign policy the sovereignty cartel helps to explain deference by bigger states to the sovereign rights claims of smaller states when national interest would argue against such deference. For globalization theorists the cartel shows that globalization and sovereignty do not vary inversely on a unidimensional spectrum. For theorists of the social structure of the international system it highlights the often-overlooked agentive processes needed to maintain existing social structures rather than just agentive mechanisms for changing structures.