The Only Text at UNL So Far Worth Anything


Rules for the World provides an innovative perspective on the behavior of international organizations and their effects on global politics. Arguing against the conventional wisdom that these bodies are little more than instruments of states, Michael Barnett and Martha Finnemore begin with the fundamental insight that international organizations are bureaucracies that have authority to make rules and so exercise power. At the same time, Barnett and Finnemore maintain, such bureaucracies can become obsessed with their own rules, producing unresponsive, inefficient, and self-defeating outcomes. Authority thus gives international organizations autonomy and allows them to evolve and expand in ways unintended by their creators.

Barnett and Finnemore reinterpret three areas of activity that have prompted extensive policy debate: the use of expertise by the IMF to expand its intrusion into national economies; the redefinition of the category “refugees” and decision to repatriate by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees; and the UN Secretariat’s failure to recommend an intervention during the first weeks of the Rwandan genocide. By providing theoretical foundations for treating these organizations as autonomous actors in their own right, Rules for the World contributes greatly to our understanding of global politics and global governance

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2 thoughts on “The Only Text at UNL So Far Worth Anything”

  1. Dr Nexon

    Thanks for the comment! Having a political science professor /from Big Wig University/ read your blog is a great ego-booster to a poor grad student 🙂

    I think I'll start posting my notes from my seminars too, for self-reference if nothing else. Anyway…

    As I mentioned to the profs, constructivism seems to be a special case of liberalism, and liberalism seems to be a special case of realism.

    Constructivism: Everything's political, anything can be an actor, all goals can be created

    Liberalism: Same thing as above, except focus only on states and igos. Nothing else matters too much.

    Realism: Same as above, except focus only on states. IGOs can't socialize states.

    Another thought: In the human cognition and instruction class, we went over behavioralism (individual action-response-feedback), cognition (rearranging minds), and social cognition (behavioralism by proxy). So far

    Behavioralism => State Interests
    Cognition => International Legitimacy
    Social Cognition => International Law

    Last thought: commenting on a couch with various, super-interesting friends is a way too distracting environment for coherent blog comments 🙂

  2. Not to be too shameless, but to get a better sense of these relationships between realism, liberalism, and constructivism I suggest the International Studies Review forum on “Realist Constructivism”, which appeared last year.

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