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Netzwerke und Governance. Transnationale Netzwerke als Grundlage emanzipatorischer Politik in der Weltgesellschaft?

Lars Kohlmorgen, Wolfgang Hein, Sonja Bartsch

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Networks and Governance. Transnational Networks as a Basis for
Emancipatory Politics in Global Society.

In political science, policy networks are considered to be of increasing importance in linking public and private forms of governance. Though the term of „network society“ has been used to stress an apparently dominant role of networks in contemporary processes of social regulation (Castells, Messner), the authors insist that the political role of networks can only be properly assessed in their relationship with hierarchical state structures, market-dominated forms of economic organization and civil society activities. They focus on the potentials of networks to help create an architecture of global governance which can transform the relationship between a globalized economy and fragmented political structures to successfully deal with social problems aggrevated by globalization. The authors discuss these potentials against the background of questions of legitimacy and power. Due to the lack of a central government authority in global governance these questions are particularly complex but very important. Two cases related to global health policy – the Global Fund and the Access Campaign – illustrate these problems, leading to the main conclusion that networked organizations as well as informal policy networks on the one hand dispose of an important potential to strengthen the role of emancipatory forces in global social policies against the dynamics of a globalized economy as well as against dominant elites in national politics. They can, on the other hand, also be exploited to defend existing structures of domination, and lead to a lack of coordination and public control. However, when network structures offer a framework to overcome deadlocks in established international organizations and are used to give a more effective voice to poor people and to push powerful actors to accept compromises, they might improve chances to strengthen global social policies.