The World Is Broken: The Social Construction of a Global Corruption Problem

Katzarova, Elitza (2015) The World Is Broken: The Social Construction of a Global Corruption Problem. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the social construction of a global corruption problem by introducing a methodological framework from the field of sociology and adapting it to International Relations (IR). It provides an alternative explanation for the adoption of anti-corruption instruments in the period 1994-1997 and the international institutionalization of anti-corruption reforms. It challenges conventional views that point to the rise of non-state actors, such as Transparency International, and the end of the Cold War. By tracing the trajectory of the corruption problem, it shows that the dynamics of the 1990s can only be fully understood within the legacy of the 1970s and, in particular, the failed talks at the United Nations. The institutionalization of the global corruption problem in the 1990s was a product largely of historical contingency and state intentionality. While it appeared that a new issue has taken international organizations by storm, it was largely key state agents that were creating this change by building coalitions and maneuvering between venues. The thesis employs methods of discourse and practice analysis from sociological research for the empirical study of claims. The analysis makes use of archival data to open up the pre-negotiation talks on illicit/corrupt payments at the OECD and the UN and study the process of claims-making, as well as document discursive strategies such as controversy management and feasibility. By taking a step back from the study of norms to look at the social construction of problems, the thesis introduces new methodological tools into constructivist IR. It also provides for the integration of state agency in constructivist approaches by showing how state actors engage in ontological warfare over the definition and institutionalization of new problems. Studying the social construction of problems through the process of claims-making elucidates the power relations that inform the established definitions and the spectrum of legitimate solutions; it helps us better understand the makings of international reality.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:International Studies
PhD Cycle:25
Subjects:Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali > SPS/04 SCIENZA POLITICA
Repository Staff approval on:15 Jun 2015 15:16

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