Academic journal article Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

The Global as a Field: Children's Rights Advocacy as a Transnational Practice

Academic journal article Environment and Planning D: Society and Space

The Global as a Field: Children's Rights Advocacy as a Transnational Practice

Article excerpt

Abstract. Research on transnationalism has called into question the much criticized but persistent dichotomy between the nation-state space as an 'inside', and the global realm as its constitutive 'outside'. This paper contributes to the emerging scholarship on transnational elites working at the intersection of the national and the global by assessing practices related to children's rights advocacy. Particular attention is paid to the drafting and the enforcement of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child since the 1980s. On the basis of a Bourdieuan theorization of social fields we argue that some aspects of children's rights advocacy can be understood as reflecting the dynamism of the transnational field of children's rights. In somewhat broader terms the paper proposes that the formative logic of elite-driven globalization is a social and political dynamism related to the rules of competition and collaboration that structure inclusions, exclusions, and awards in transnational fields.

Keywords: global, field, topology, topography, transnational, practice, Bourdieu, children's rights

1 Introduction

Studies on phenomena that transcend national boundaries have expanded rapidly during the past two decades of intensifying global integration through unequal economic, political, and cultural processes and interactions. The concomitant new forms of social relationships that bind together people and places across countries and continents have been studied extensively with the emphasis varying from human mobility and its cultural and economic consequences to state rescaling and the rise of networked forms of governance (eg, Brenner, 2004; Leitner and Ehrkamp, 2006; Nash, 2002; Yeung, 2000). Transnational studies literature has deepened our knowledge of the structural consequences of globalization in people's everyday lives, and foregrounded new kinds of liminal and creolized forms of subjectivity and identity embedded in transnational migrants' practices and experiences (Lawson, 2000; Silvey, 2004; Song, 2012).

As a social phenomenon and research agenda transnationalism has also unsettled established conceptions of society and the state (Featherstone et al, 2007; Mitchell, 1997; Yeoh et al, 2003). The relationship between transnational practices and the state as an institutional frame of action has become an important theoretical and methodological question in itself (eg, Jones, 2009; Mansfield, 2005; Robinson, 2001; Sassen, 2006; Yeoh et al, 2003). It is evident that transnational relations are building 'global' realities that cannot be captured by analyzing societies as discrete 'national' entities. Moreover, the state is increasingly seen as relationally positioned through individual and institutional practices that sustain the importance of state institutions in shaping--but not limiting--social relationships (eg, Click Schiller, 2005; Kuus and Agnew, 2008).

As aptly pointed out by Katharyne Mitchell (2003), emphasis on 'trans' in transnational studies has encouraged relational thinking, from human mobility to economic interdependence, from political networking to NGO activities. Often these relations are conceived of as networks that bridge localities and people across topographic distance, thus transcending or 'shrinking' space (see Blunt, 2007). Expanding this work, a growing scholarship is interrogating the multiple spatialities of transnationality and calling for new understandings of their social morphologies (see Featherstone et al, 2007; Jackson et al, 2004; Voigt-Graf, 2004) . Among the latter are studies on elite-driven transnational practices, premised on the idea that people with professional expertise of 'global' purchase have a pivotal role in fostering the intensification of transnational relations (eg, Beaverstock and Boardwell, 2000; Mitchell, 2003; Robinson, 2001; Sklair, 2002; Suddaby and Viale, 2011; Yeoh and Willis, 2005). Theorization on the geographies of transnational elites has underscored that while topographic distance--literal movement across space--is relevant for understanding mobile elites' networking, some aspects of their dynamic social relationships may be better captured in topological terms (Allen, 2009; Hall, 2011). …

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