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'Constructing a Global Polity': a new book on how to grasp changes in world politics

Olaf Corry’s recent publication Constructing a Global Polity: Theory, Discourse and Governance (Palgrave 2013) 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.

Through this new lens the author examines the construction of a global polity in the controversy that followed the dramatic 'anti-globalization' protests at global elite gatherings. A variety of constructions of globality posit it in different ways as an object of governance, facilitating the development of different techniques of governance. Whether we aim at governing globality for local autonomy, for market freedom or for human welfare, global polity discourse renders global objects governable.

The findings challenge the standard typology of positions in the globalization debate and suggest that, even while states remain central, the logic of world politics may be shifting in more subtle ways. Beyond this, Constructing a Global Polity 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 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).

Olaf Corry’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.


Table of Contents


Part I: Constructing a Theory of a Global Polity

  1. Post-Internationalism and the Global Polity
  2. Global Governmentality and the Domestic Analogy
  3. Models of Political Structure in International Relations
  4. What Is a (Global) Polity?

Part II: A Global Polity Under Construction?

  1. Governing Globality for Local Autonomy
  2. Governing Globality for Market Freedom
  3. Governing Globality for Human Welfare
  4. Constructing a Global Polity


Further readings

On similar topics, Olaf published the following:

Olaf Corry (2013) ‘Green 1989?: Revolutions, Environmentalism and the Global Age’, Political Studies (in press).

Olaf Corry (2013), ‘The Rise and Fall of the Global Climate Polity’, in Johannes Stripple & Harriet Bulkeley (eds) Governing the Climate. New Approaches to Rationality, Power and Politics. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).

Olaf Corry (2012), ‘Securitisation and ‘Riskification’: Second-order Security and the Politics of Climate Change’, Millennium - Journal of International Studies  40(2): 235-258.

Olaf Corry & Hauke Riesch (2012) ‘NGO Representations of CCS’. Nils Marcusson, Simon Shackley and Benjamin Evar (eds.) The Social Dynamics of Carbon Capture and Storage. (London: Earthscan).

Olaf Corry (2012) ‘Anti-Globalization Movements and their Critics’ in Mark Jurgensmeyer & Helmut Anheier (eds.) Encyclopaedia of Global Studies, Sage Publishing.

Olaf Corry (2010) ‘What is a (Global) Polity?’ Review of International Studies. SI: 157-180.