Challenging Global Finance: Civil Society and Transnational by Elizabeth Friesen

By Elizabeth Friesen

Friesen demonstrates how transnational CSOs and NGOs can impact the context during which foreign political judgements are made. She indicates how, through reframing the problems, the transnational crusade for the cancellation of 3rd global debt altered the dominant discourse, shifted the agenda and thereby formed political results.

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Theories which address regimes and community values (Keohane and Nye 1977; Ruggie 1982, 1998; Haas 1992), theories which address justice, ethics and morality in international relations (Linklater 1982; Robinson 1999; Held 2004) and theories which address the role of collective understandings and beliefs (Brassett and Higgot 2003; Wendt 1992; Onuf 1989; Steans 1998) have produced a more nuanced view of power which is closer to the three-dimensional view of power put forward by Lukes. In addition, a number of theoretical approaches now seek to bridge the gap between international relations and comparative politics.

As Sikkink (1998) argues, there can be substantial political power inherent in certain normative ideas such as human rights and when norm entrepreneurs succeed in creating a norm cascade this is a powerful force. I follow those who take a nuanced view of the relationship between ideas, interests and action and suggest that, although quantifiable, empirically measurable interests do remain very important, material interests may sometimes conflict with normative interests and it is by no means certain that the materially oriented, interest-maximizing goal will always dominate (Porter and Ronit 2010b; Abdelal et al 2010; Chweiroth 2008; Avant et al 2010a; Germain and Kenny 2005a; Carpenter 2010; Moschella 2010; Marques and Utting 2010; Olesen 2011).

This work now examines the distinction between “conscience” adherents and “benefit” adherents in social movement organizations (McCarthy and Zald 1979: 1222), the construction of identity as a force that may potentially transcend material interests as a motivating force in social movements (Jenkins 1983: 535; Piven and Cloward 1995: 160; Reitan 2007: 96) and the argument that a “network society”, which is characterized by the emergence of social movements, has emerged not only from a restructuring of capitalism – a material change – but also from technological and communications revolutions – a change focused on ideas and identity (Castells 1997: 352–353).

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