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Making normative meaning accountable in
WZB Discussion Paper, No. SP IV 2007-305
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WZB Berlin Social Science Center
Suggested Citation: Wiener, Antje (2007) : Making normative meaning accountable in international politics, WZB Discussion Paper, No. SP IV 2007-305
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zbw Leibniz-Informationszentrum Wirtschaft Leibniz Information Centre for Economics
SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH
CENTER BERLINSP IV 2007-305 Making Normative Meaning Accountable in International Politics Antje Wiener* * Guest researcher at the WZB in May and June 2006;
Professor of Politics and International Relations, Department of European Studies and Modern Languages, University of Bath, Bath BA2 7AY, United Kingdom;
ZITIERWEISE CITATIONAntje Wiener Making Normative Meaning Accountable in International Politics Discussion Paper SP IV 2007-305, Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung 2007 Wissenschaftszentrum Berlin für Sozialforschung Reichpietschufer 50, 10785 Berlin, Federal Republic of Germany
Zusammenfassung Making normative meanings accountable – Eine Studie zur empirischen Untersuchung normativer Bedeutungen in der internationalen Politik Wenn es zutrifft, dass kulturelle Praxen Erfahrung und Erwartungen prägen, dann müssen sie eindeutig bestimmt und für die empirische Forschung als aussagekräftig gewertet werden. Mit Bezug auf die Theorie der Internationalen Beziehungen (IB-Theorie), Internationales Öffentliches Recht und normative Demokratietheorie entwickelt dieser Artikel einen Ansatz, um die umstrittenen Bedeutungen von Normen in der internationalen Politik unter der Bedingung von Konstitutionalisierung jenseits des Staates zu erforschen. Ziel ist es, ein Forschungsdesign zur Untersuchung der unsichtbaren Konstitution von Politik, das heißt, zur Erforschung von individuell gehaltenen assoziativen Konnotationen, die zur umstrittenen Interpretation normativer Bedeutung führen, zu entwickeln. Diese Überlegungen werden in dem Papier in zwei Teilen vorgestellt. Teil I entwickelt Forschungsannahmen und Hypothesen aufgrund der relevanten Literatur im ersten Abschnitt. Er zeigt unterschiedliche Typen von Normen und Bedingungen von Normumstrittenheit auf (Abschnitt 1), definiert Forschungsannahmen und Hypothesen (Abschnitt 2), argumentiert für die Rückbesinnung auf die Dimension der Kultur im Konstitutionalismus (Abschnitt 3) und schließt mit der Leitfrage nach Konvergenz, Divergenz oder Diffusion normativer Bedeutungen (Abschnitt 4). Teil II richtet den Blick auf die Operationalisierung des Forschungsdesigns. Er stellt die Forschungslogik und Art der Untersuchung (Abschnitt 5), die Methode der Interviewauswertung (Abschnitt 6) und die Forschungsindikatoren nach sozialer Gruppe, Fundamentalnormen und politischen Arenen (Abschnitt 7) vor.
Abschnitt 8 fasst das Forschungsdesign und -vorgehen zusammen.
iv Antje Wiener •Making Normative Meaning Accountable Abstract Making Normative Meaning Accountable in International Politics If cultural practices shape experience and expectations, they need to be identified and made accountable based on empirical research. Drawing on international relations (IR) theory, international law and normative democratic theory this article develops a framework approach to studying the contested meaning of norms in international politics under conditions of constitutionalisation beyond the nation-state. The goal is to formulate observations and identify a design for empirical research, which is suitable to examining the “invisible constitution” of politics, that is, the individually held associative connotations which inform contested interpretation of normative meaning. To do so, the article is organised in two parts. Part I derives research assumptions and hypotheses from the literature. It turns to the distinction of types of norms and conditions of norm contestation in section 1, identifies research assumptions and hypotheses in section 2, argues to bring culture back into constitutionalism in section 3, and summarises the guiding question of convergence, divergence, or diffusion of normative meanings in section 4. Part II then focuses on research operationalisation. Section 5 elaborates on the rationale of the research framework and type of enquiry. Section 6 highlights the method of interview evaluation. Section 7 identifies the research indicators including type of social group to be interviewed, fundamental norms that are likely to be contested, domestic political arenas in which the social groups operate, and issue areas linked with core constitutional norms. Section 8 summarises the case study’s design and procedure.
v Antje Wiener •Making Normative Meaning Accountable Contents
This paper draws on international relations theory (IR), international law and normative democratic theory. The intention is to develop a framework approach to studying the contested meaning of norms in international politics under conditions of constitutionalisation beyond the nation-state. The goal is, however, not one of testing or verifying theories. Instead, observations are formulated to facilitate plausible assumptions and an appropriate research design for the empirical case study. Research assumptions and hypotheses are considered as tools to provide the rationale for the selection of case studies and the research focus. The purpose of the larger research project — the details of which cannot be reiterated here in full for reasons of spatial constraint — is to examine the “invisible constitution” of politics.1 The potentially contested interpretation of meanings of norms provides the starting point for the enquiry. The project builds on the observation that the invisible cultural dimension of a community’s constitution has been largely omitted by the particular version of “modern constitutionalism” with its lack of appreciation for cultural practices (Tully 1995, Rosenfeld 1994). Despite the knowledge that, “the ‘rule’ lies essentially in the practice” (Taylor 1993: 58), the role and impact of day-to-day cultural practices have received less analytical attention than organisational practices in modern constitutionalism compared with ancient constitutionalism.
1 For the full project see Wiener, Antje, The Invisible Constitution of Politics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (2008, forthcoming).
Antje Wiener •Making Normative Meaning Accountable The paper contends that if cultural practices do shape experience and expectations, they need to be identified and made accountable based on empirical research. As Habermas notes, it is the cultural patterns of interpretation, evaluation and expression [which] serve as resources for the efforts in understanding of those participating in the process of interaction and negotiate a shared definition of the situation and within this framework seek to reach a consensus on something in a world (Habermas 1981b: 203).
The political importance of these resources comes to the fore in moments of friction, i.e. in situations which reflect divergence in interpreting the meaning of norms. That is, “culture and language develop a peculiar resistance in those rare moments when they fail as resources which we experience in situations of disturbed communication” (Habermas 1988, Vol. 2: 204). As invisible elements, these resources are constitutive for politics. We know that they matter. Yet, in order to establish how they matter, they need to be made accountable (Garfinkel 1967).
The paper proceeds in two parts. Part I derives research assumptions and hypotheses from the literature. It turns to the distinction of types of norms and conditions of norm contestation in section 1. It then identifies research assumptions and hypotheses as the starting point for the operationalisation of the case study in section 2. Section 3 summarises the point of bringing culture back into constitutionalism and section 4 summarises the guiding question of convergence, divergence or diffusion of normative meanings for the case study. Part II takes this framework a step further towards research operationalisation.
Section 5 elaborates on the rationale of the research framework and type of enquiry. Section 6 highlights the method of interview evaluation. Section 7 identifies the research indicators including, first, the type of social group which is to be interviewed; second, the fundamental norms which are likely to be contested; third, the domestic political arenas in which the social groups operate; and fourth, the issue areas linked with the selected core constitutional norms. Finally, section 8 summarises the case study’s design and procedure.
Antje Wiener •Making Normative Meaning Accountable Part I: Research Assumptions
1. Context and Contingency It can be assumed that, with an increasing variety of contexts, divergence in the interpretation of norms will rise equally. In addition, work on the role of norms and how they have been enacted in world politics has indicated the relevance of the social dimension for norm implementation and recognition.
Both constitutionalism and research on norms in IR have demonstrated that norms may achieve a degree of appropriateness reflected by habitus (March and Olsen 1989). However, absent social recognition, norms are likely to be contested. This also holds true for legal norms which require social institutions to enhance understanding and identify meaning, i.e. normative practice (Curtin and Dekker 1999). As Finnemore and Toope summarise, … law is a broad social phenomenon deeply embedded in the practices, beliefs, and traditions of societies, and shaped by interaction among societies. Customary international law displays this richer understanding of law's operation as does the increasingly large body of what has been termed 'interstitial law', that is, the implicit rules operating in and around explicit normative frameworks (Finnemore and Toope 2001: 743; emphasis added).
That is, understanding about legally stipulated norms in treaties, constitutions or otherwise formally composed and publicly accessible documents (e.g. Tilly
1975) is generated by social interactions. It is not based on correspondence to an objective reality, “rather it is inherently constructed and sustained by social processes” (Colombo 2003: 1). Lawyers point out, for example, that legal institutions are not exclusively based on “black letter law” but are, in the first instance, “fiction” (Curtin and Dekker 1999: 88; cf. Ruiter 1993: 363). The reference to “language” indicates the legal definition of norm types according to the written legal text and their assumed legal validity without historical, cultural or societal constraints, that is, over time and across contexts. As social practices, discursive interventions are constitutive towards the invisible “spirit of the law” (Shaw and Wiener 1999). The interactive approach to law stresses the influential link between the ought-ness of legal texts, on the one hand, and societal conditions, on the other. This link facilitates understanding and subsequently creates the conditions for successful implementation of constitutional rules and norms. Therefore, in order to establish the degree of diverAntje Wiener •Making Normative Meaning Accountable gence or convergence of norm interpretations empirically, it is necessary to study individually held connotations of meanings in addition to the legal validity and social facticity of norms.
1.1 Contestation of Norms Norms and their meanings evolve through interaction in context. They are therefore contested by default. This is particularly important in beyond-thestate contexts where “no ‘categorical imperatives’ are in practice”, and where “the context, or situation, within which activities take place is extremely important” (Jackson 2003: 19-20). While norms may acquire stability over extended periods of time, they remain flexible by definition. We can therefore hypothesise that the contested meaning of norms is enhanced under three conditions. First, a situation of crisis raises stakes for understanding meanings based on social institutions: the social feedback factor is reduced. Second, the change of governance processes, i.e. the extension of governance practices beyond modern political and societal boundaries changes the social environment and hence the reference frame of social institutions: again, the social feedback factor is reduced. Third, the historical contingency of normative meaning indicates a change of constitutive social practices both culturally and organisationally, and hence a corresponding change in normative meaning over time (see box 1).
Box 1 Enhanced Contestation of Norms: Three Conditions