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Global and local trajectories of social standardisation: The cases of Argentina and Brazil

Peña, Alejandro (2013). Global and local trajectories of social standardisation: The cases of Argentina and Brazil. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


This dissertation examines the interaction between a particular type of global governance mechanism – social standardisation – and national political economic structures in two countries of the global South: Argentina and Brazil. In doing so it provides a greater understanding of the emergence of new governance structures and the growing role of actors from emerging countries. The dissertation develops three lines of analysis. First, it studies the evolution of the institutional attempts to establish global social standards since the onset of the twentieth century, with specific attention to three global governance initiatives emerging around the 2000s: the UN Global Compact, the Global Reporting Initiative, and the ISO 26000 Guidance Standard on Social Responsibility. Second, it investigates the participation in these latest initiatives of actors from Argentina and Brazil, detailing institutional connections, central players, clusters and overall participation patterns. Third, it analyses and contrasts national participation patterns in light of the trajectory of social standardisation and the political economic environment of these two countries. As a result, the dissertation offers a distinct contribution to the governance and standardisation literature by highlighting the relevance of national political variables in structuring engagement with global governance projects. The dissertation uses a combination of methodologies, sources and analytical techniques including historical analysis, network analysis, interviews with local actors, and direct observation of one instance of global standard-setting.

The main line of argument is that local participation in global initiatives of social standard-setting depends on two main elements: the pre-existence of compatible cleavages of social standardisation, and the local resonance of governance frames. Moreover, the thesis reveals that these elements are strongly connected with ‘Southern’ political variables regarding the pattern of political, social and economic development, the model of state-society relations, and the political discourse promoted by the government. On this basis, this thesis can explain the divergent participation patterns found in Brazil and Argentina regarding the three global case study initiatives and their overall acceptance of social standardisation programmes. The dissertation provides two main contributions: 1) it emphasises the relevance of communicative dynamics in the diffusion of global governance, relativising economistic and power-led approaches, and 2) demonstrates the relevance of Southern political institutions, traditions, and discourses in structuring global/local communications.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
School of Policy & Global Affairs > School of Policy & Global Affairs Doctoral Theses
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