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NETWORK POWER AND GLOBAL STANDARDIZATION: THE CONTROVERSY OVER THE MULTILATERAL AGREEMENT ON INVESTMENT

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Abstract:

This essay examines the controversy over the attempt to establish rules governing global capital flows in the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), which became a target of “antiglobalization” activism. Making sense of the activists' concerns about the MAI requires understanding how the emergence of transnational standards in contemporary globalization constitutes an exercise in power. I develop the concept of “network power” to explain the way in which the rise of a single coordinating standard for global activity can be experienced as coercive, as it eclipses alternative standards and abrogates the genuinely free choice among different conventions. Using a network-power analysis, I reinterpret the controversy over the MAI as a concern about the processes by which neoliberal globalization is being brought about.
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Keywords: coercion; globalization; multilateral agreement on investment; network power

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA , Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 01 January 2005

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