Mittwoch, 7. Januar 2009

Political Scientists Get It: It's The Process, Stupid!

The need for procedural competence - for knowing how to organize and re-organize purposeful cooperative interaction in relation to common challenges - has roots in many different grounds. One comprehensive explanation for the importance of procedural competence is globalization.

At the 21st World Congress of Political Science in Santiago, Chile from July 12 to 16, 2009, the world's political scientists gather to grapple with globalization. In the description of their theme, GLOBAL DISCONTENT? Dilemmas of Change, it becomes appearent why procedural competence is so important. I excerpt the following issues from their text:

Reorganization of economic and political systems with new purposes and procedures
"Globalization as a process is of more recent vintage. It refers not only to the speed with which information, money and goods travel around the world but also to the reorganization of the world economically and politically in ways that were not possible before. Finally, globalization has become an ideology. Its proponents perceive the world through this cognitive framework and mobilize it in their efforts to shape how the world system operates and where it should be going."

They sound pretty gloomy about it, a gloom I do not share. I think globalization is a great opportunity to reorganize for a better world.

Focussing on the dimension of processes offers a deeper understanding of the phenomenon than treating it as a mere situation
"(...) more recently, “global processes” has been offered as an alternative to “globalization” to permit greater specification of the dimensions involved and to avoid some of the ideological undertones of the term. We face, as political scientists, both an opportunity and a challenge to advance our theoretical and empirical understanding of the phenomenon that we have loosely referred to as globalization."

To treat Globalization as a situation means to treat it as if it were a static state of being. However, globalization is not the state of the 21st century, it is the meta-process for many different kind of processes which are entangled, interconnected, and qualifying each other. In order to understand what is happening one needs to understand the dynamics of the subprocesses, the intentions behind the driving forces, and the recurring and typical temporal structures - the Zeitgestalt, the temporal shape - of these processes.

Political reorganization shifts focus from national government to multi-level governance
"As the removal of barriers to movement of capital, goods and information has gained ground, the nation state, the primary unit of human political organization since 1648, has come under challenge. One response has been the emergence of multi-level governance with the state redefining the space it occupies so as to reinvigorate itself and with new or strengthened entities forming at the regional and global levels."

The decentralization of government means that new actors take part in governing, and need to understand, and be able to shape governance processes. These transformational processes are complex interactions which involve both collaboration and conflict. Roles within the process of governance are redefined. Knowing how interaction processes are effectively focused for change is a key competence of all new facilitators of any form of organized dialogue.

The challenge of managing different developments
"One way the nation state has tried to meet the challenge of globalization, as already indicated, has been by forming regional unions and/or establishing multi-level governance. The European Union is the most complex example of a regional union since it aims for political union while others tend to limit their domain to trade. All share a similar intention, however: to form a bloc that can influence and give direction to globalization-derived developments so as to minimize their negative and maximize their positive outcomes. Similarly, nowadays, institutions of multi-level governance are proliferating throughout the world."

Facilitating new integration processes
"Integration has returned as a central concern of national governments. Some countries, for historical or cultural reasons, may possess attitudinal and institutional frameworks that facilitate coping with such challenges while others do not. Nowadays, however, most countries face these challenges, as people discover forgotten origins, identities and cultures. The search for new formulae for holding societies together is continuing, frequently accompanied by violence."

Where societal integration is a problem, the re-organization and new shaping of integration processes is the problem. Better understand the nature and workings of process and procedure!

Maneuvering within, and shaping conflicting trends
"Globalization produces a variety of trends, some convergent, others contradictory. A marked trend, for example, is the one toward democratization of societies, a global process harboring many challenges. In the emergent “market democracies”, economic integration goes hand in hand with populations clamoring for constitutional democracy. Elected politicians and government elites face unprecedented new challenges when striking a balance between two distinct constituencies and two distinct set of policy goals. The expectations and the changing moods of domestic and international markets and the perceptions and the demands of the electorate are rarely in harmony. Policymakers have little room to maneuver, yet they are under pressure to satisfy both constituencies. Is that an impossible task?"

No, it's not - if you understand how processes shape, and qualify each other, and how processes may become deliberate procedures.

Procedural Politics and democratization: Designing and applying and new rules and forms of democratic interaction
"Those societies that have a greater role in shaping the globalization process are projecting their political and economic values to the world. Having an operating market economy and democratic government seem to be the main elements of this ideological movement. Yet, there are doubts as to how well democracy has recently been working in its original habitat. Furthermore, the application of democratic forms in societies that have previously been ruled by other systems has often produced outcomes that are problematical."

Jupille defines procedural politics as "the everyday conduct of politics not within, but with respect to, political institutions." It's the challenge of the times: designing new (temporary or institutional) formats of democracy. We better know how democratic interaction can be shaped... which is why the model of Organized Dialogue is so crucial.

Procedural Politics and the world economic system: Designing new rules of economic interaction
"(...) The disadvantaged are demanding changes to the current international economic order so cherished by the international markets and sometimes euphemistically called the “new financial architecture”. Yet no new international arrangement capable of establishing basic rules for a new international order has come to replace the Bretton Woods system, a situation that generates instabilities in the developing nations. Indeed, the WTO Doha round designed as a “development round” has encountered serious difficulties and been suspended."

The challenge of sustainable development
"Globalization has brought with it global problems of environment, producing climatic change seen by many to be threatening the survival of societies. Politics has failed to bring about a solution. Developed societies work to insure a safer environment for themselves while exporting some of their problems to the less developed. The poor find it difficult to devote their limited resources to environmental problems. Globalization also results in the increased trafficking of women, both for prostitution and for domestic work - part of the new global care economy in which care in rich nations are increasingly supplied by migrant women."

The world is interconnected - environmental problems are social problems, and they may become economical problems, and vice versa. Sustainable development is an integrated approach to deal with all important aspects holistically. So we need to be able to design such holistic problem resolution procedures, and shape the processes of sustainable development.

Globalization is a dynamic and complex transformative process
"Globalization has produced a redistribution of power both within societies and within the world. Like any other major transformative process, it produces winners and losers. As the process moves on, it generates its own discontents, its critics, its opponents. It produces politics of resistance as well as politics of compliance in which both states and NGOs take part. At this critical juncture, we believe that the globalization process and its outcomes constitute critical topics of study for all political scientists."

Globalization is a non-linear process. It's important to understand what non-linearity means, and how one can deal with it. Not the least contribution comes from Clausewitz' idea of strategy.

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