Challenging Global Finance: Civil Society and Transnational by Elizabeth Friesen

By Elizabeth Friesen

Friesen demonstrates how transnational CSOs and NGOs can effect the context during which overseas political judgements are made. She indicates how, via reframing the problems, the transnational crusade for the cancellation of 3rd international debt altered the dominant discourse, shifted the agenda and thereby formed political results.

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Extra info for Challenging Global Finance: Civil Society and Transnational Networks

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The power of normative ideas to rewrite the agenda and, in this way, redefine the very limits of the possible is substantial. 4 Kuhn (1970) describes a process where a scientific or technical breakthrough produces a paradigm shift; however I argue that a paradigm shift is not necessarily based on the transformation of a set of beliefs about the material world. It can also be based on a shift in other kinds of ideas and what passes for knowledge including normative ideas about how the world should be organized.

The constructivist approach suggests that ideas are important forces in the ongoing process of construction and transformation in international finance. The transnational civil society based campaign for the cancellation of third world debt is a useful way into this subject. The campaign was of interest to a broad range of civil society activists including those interested in international development, proponents of a tax on international financial transactions, critics of tax havens, those calling for reform of the IFIs and even environmentalist groups concerned about the role of international finance in funding environmentally questionable projects.

At first social movement literature was dominated by a focus on the national level but at present there is a growing body of work which addresses transnational processes (Keck and Sikkink 1998; O’Brien et al. 2000; Guidry et al. 2000; Bandy and Smith 2005; Smith and Bandy 2005; Scholte with Schnabel 2002). Just as the technological and communications advances associated with globalization have facilitated the global expansion of international finance beyond the borders of the state, social movements, CSOs and NGOs have expanded beyond state borders and now network in new and innovative ways.

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