School of Social and Political Sciences - Research Publications

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    Accountability in global economic governance
    MacDonald, K ; Brown, C ; Eckersley, R (Oxford University Press, 2018-04-05)
    Contemporary theoretical debates surrounding accountability in global economic governance have often adopted a problem-focused analytical lens—centred on real-world political controversies surrounding the accountability of global governing authorities. This chapter explores four distinctive problems of global accountability for which empirical inquiry has usefully informed normative analysis: first, the problem of unaccountable power within global governance processes; second, the problem of decentred political authority in global governance; third, problems establishing appropriate foundations of social power through which normatively desirable transnational accountabilities can be rendered practically effective at multiple scales; finally, problems associated with the need to traverse significant forms of social and cultural difference in negotiating appropriate normative terms of transnational accountability relationships. In relation to each, this chapter examines how systematic engagement between empirical and normative modes of analysis can both illuminate the theoretical problem and inform practical political strategies for strengthening accountability in global economic governance.
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    Ethical Consumerism: A Defense of Market Vigilantism
    MacDonald, K ; Barry, C (Wiley, 2018)
    There are many ways in which people can try, acting alone or with others, to change the world for the better. They can engage in political activism or volunteer work or provide financial support for others who do so. They can also act through the medium of the market by providing incentives for change—for example, through paying a higher price for fair‐trade coffee or threatening to withhold purchases in response to the wrongful conduct of other market actors.
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    "Post-conflict" reconstruction, the crimes of the powerful and transitional justice
    Balint, J ; Lasslett, K ; Macdonald, K (Pluto Journals, 2017-03-01)
    Periods of armed conflict can generate significant ruptures in the political, economic, cultural and legal life of affected regions. As societies gradually transition from a state of war to a state of peace--conditions that are often unstable and transitory --civil society, governments and legal authorities are frequently weakened by internal divisions, resource gaps, organizational fragility and widespread perceptions of illegitimacy. Furthermore, the immediate demands of the transitional process (including efforts to promote transitional justice) can channel finite civil society resources into peacemaking and reconciliation initiatives, drawing attention away--whether inadvertently or by design--from state and corporate accountability.
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    Containing conflict: Authoritative transnational actors and the management of company-community conflict
    MacDonald, K ; Malet, D ; Anderson, M (Georgetown University Press, 2017-01-01)
    Amidst intensified competition for land available to private investors in sectors such as mining, agribusiness and forestry, disputes over land between transnational investors and local communities are emerging in many parts of the world as an increasingly visible form of transnational conflict. Whereas land conflicts were once seen as a quintessentially ‘local’ problem, to be managed by national or sub-national political authorities, they are now becoming transnationally politicized. Such conflicts may be expressed in episodes of violent confrontation between members of local communities and police, military or private security officials. At other times, they take the form of non-violent resistance or protest, or are channeled through formal political, administrative or legal channels for managing social and political contestation.
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    Restricted entitlements for skilled temporary migrants: the limits of migrant consent
    Boese, M ; Macdonald, K (Taylor & Francis (Routledge), 2017-01-01)
    Temporary labour migration programmes have often attracted significant controversy, particularly with regard to provisions that restrict the social entitlements available to temporary migrant workers, compared with other categories of residents. Advocates of such restrictions have argued that migrants freely choose to participate in temporary migration schemes on the prevailing terms, and are free to leave at any time if such participation no longer serves their interests. Our central goal in this paper is to critically evaluate such consent-based justifications for restricted social entitlements of temporary migrant workers, with reference to empirical evidence concerning the practical social and economic conditions of choice experienced by these temporary migrants. Drawing on evidence from one major receiving country – Australia – we show that consent-based justifications for restricted social entitlements fail to fully account for either the practical complexity of individual migration choices, or the de facto operation of Australia’s skilled temporary migration programme as a ‘test run’ for potential future permanent residents or citizens. By bringing sociological analysis of lived migrant experiences into critical engagement with normative debates about restricted social entitlements, we contribute to the bridging of empirical and normative migration debates, which too often evolve in parallel.
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    The Role of Beneficiaries in Transnational Regulatory Processes
    Koenig-Archibugi, M ; Macdonald, K (SAGE PUBLICATIONS INC, 2017-03-01)
    The editors of this volume highlight the role of intermediaries, alongside regulators and targets, as a way to better understand the outcomes of regulatory processes. Here, we explore the benefits of distinguishing a fourth category of actors: the groups whose interests the rules are meant to protect, the (intended) beneficiaries. We apply that framework to nonstate regulation of labor conditions, where the primary intended beneficiaries are workers and their families, especially in poorer countries. We first outline the different ways in which beneficiaries can relate to regulators, intermediaries, and targets; we then develop conjectures about the effect of different relationships on regulatory impacts and democratic legitimacy in relation to corporate power structures, specifically those embedded in the governance of global supply chains. We illustrate these conjectures primarily with examples from three initiatives—Rugmark, the Fair Labor Association, and the Fairtrade system. We conclude that it matters whether and how beneficiaries are included in the regulatory process.
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    Liquid authority and political legitimacy in transnational governance
    Macdonald, K ; Macdonald, T (CAMBRIDGE UNIV PRESS, 2017-07-01)
    In this article we investigate the institutional mechanisms required for ‘liquid’ forms of authority in transnational governance to achieve normative political legitimacy. We understand authority in sociological terms as the institutionalized inducement of addressees to defer to institutional rules, directives, or knowledge claims. We take authority to be ‘liquid’ when it is characterized by significant institutional dynamism, fostered by its informality, multiplicity, and related structural properties. The article’s central normative claim is that the mechanisms prescribed to legitimize transnational governance institutions – such as accountability or experimentalist mechanisms – should vary with the liquid characteristics of their authority structures. We argue for this claim in two steps. We first outline our theoretical conception of political legitimacy – as a normative standard prescribing legitimizing mechanisms that support authorities’ collectively valuable governance functions – and we explain in theoretical terms why legitimizing mechanisms should vary with differing authority structures. We then present an illustrative case study of the interaction between liquid authority and legitimizing mechanisms of public accountability and pragmatic experimentalism in the context of transnational business regulation. We conclude by considering broader implications of our argument for both the design of legitimate transnational governance institutions, and future research agendas on transnational authority and legitimacy.
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    Beyond Gridlock: Reshaping Liberal Institutions for a Pluralist Global Order
    MacDonald, K (Luiss University Press, 2016)
    The authors of Gridlock present a compelling if rather disheartening reflection on the state of contemporary global politics, and our persistently unsuccessful collective efforts to advance global institutional cooperation across a range of policy domains. The book is framed around a series of dispiriting narratives of failed international cooperation—from multilateral trade talks to climate negotiations and threats to global security and humanitarianism presented by major civil and regional conflicts. International cooperation is widely recognized to be vital for adequately handling pressing collective problems such as these; yet efforts to negotiate cooperative intergovernmental agreements remain gridlocked.
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    Reforming accountability in international NGOs: making sense of conflicting feedback
    Davis, TWD ; Macdonald, K ; Brenton, S (ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD, 2012-01-01)