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Olaf Corry: Constructing a Global Polity

Olaf presents his book that challenges the standard typology of positions in the globalization debate.

Olaf Corry recently published Constructing a Global Polity: Theory, Discourse and Governance (Palgrave 2013), that argues that our current understanding of globalization makes it impossible to grasp some crucial changes in world politics. Drawing innovatively on both Foucault and Waltz, the book reframes the debate about global politics by redefining the term 'polity' as a new model of political structure. Unlike hierarchy and anarchy, polity draws attention to how new objects of governance such as the global economy or climate affect the structure of world politics.

Olaf's book recieved excellent reviews, including in the LSE book review blog. The reviewer in particular highlighted that:

'No brief summary can adequately convey the richness and nuances of Corry’s arguments, but if there is one important thing to be learned from Constructing a Global Polity, it is that IR needs more and not less grand theorizing in order to make sense of an ever-changing world. However, since it is a theory-loaded book and requires at least some basic knowledge of IR theories, I would recommend it only to advanced students who have a special interest in IR theory. In the current special issue of the European Journal of International Relations a group of prominent IR scholars asks whether we have reached ‘The End of International Relations Theory?’. Corry’s book clearly demonstrates that IR theory is not dead, it is well and alive'. (Full review available here).

In this podcast, Olaf presents the findings of the book, and shows how it opens up a promising research agenda beyond the ‘state versus global’-literature, linking linguistic discourse closer to the development of technologies of governing and a new model of structure in world politics.

Olaf's ongoing research builds further on the framework, addressing the emergence of the climate as a global governance-object. Just a few years ago, the climate was not something anybody thought about governing: as a governance-object ‘the climate’ did not exist. Now, as methods of monitoring, modeling and manipulating have developed, and the argument in favour of trying to govern it has been mounted, the climate has become a governance-object with implications for key actors as well as the structure of world politics itself. In particular, Corry is currently exploring how geoengineering – the large-scale deliberate manipulation of earth systems – suggest a new stage in debate about climate change and the emergence of a global polity.

Related links

Olaf talks about Climate change and the politics of geoengineering (November 2013)

Olaf's Blog post on the Doha Climate Summit (December 2012)




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