Towards a Global Polity

By Morten Ougaard; Richard Higgott | Go to book overview

6

Knowledge networks and policy expertise in the global polity

Diane Stone


Introduction

Increasing political inter-connectedness is running in tandem with another related process of change in the global order, that is, the growing role of knowledge and expertise in social and political life. A focus on this later trend brings issues of knowledge and power to the forefront of analysis of the global polity. Indeed, the two trends are deeply intertwined since knowledge creation and dissemination have been an international affair for centuries.

Accordingly, this chapter outlines sources of knowledge that have some impact upon global modes of governance. 1 The discussion also investigates aspects of the relationship between power and the internationalisation of political life, particularly the manner in which research and consulting advice can help shape global and regional policy agendas. Moreover, the proliferation of international knowledge networks is integral to the globalisation process. Within these networks, knowledge actors - research institutes, experts, consultants, scientists, professional associations, etc. - exchange resources (knowledge and expertise) with other actors (decision-makers, opinion-formers, producers) to pursue shared interests. However, asymmetries in power relationships within the global polity are reproduced within these knowledge networks as well as occasionally modified by them.

Drawing on the themes outlined in the Introduction to this volume, these networks contribute to increased interconnectedness and represent instances of 'thick community'. The 'depth of consciousness of the world as a single place' is often well formed among network agents. Indeed, participation in these networks can be a learning mechanism to heighten such awareness. However, little attention has been given to issues of accountability and participation in this mode of governance where 'global knowledge elites' become key actors in a thickening web of global institutions, regulatory activities and policy practices. The growth in the supply and spread of knowledge and expertise has an impact not only on the character of knowledge but also on channels into and participation in the

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