Center for Governance and Sustainability

at the University of Massachusetts Boston

Changing the Frame of Reference

Everyone’s Business offers a challenge to the international community and to a number of academic disciplines. The current frame of reference for the intergovernmental system and most of the social science world has been set by events and pressures of the preceding generations. GRI’s sharply different framework is making a significant contribution to redefining the boundaries of the study of international affairs and traditional thinking about scope of international governance.

This is a difficult challenge for officials in traditional government ministries and departments because their areas of responsibility have been defined, in some cases, centuries ago. It is also a difficult challenge to the traditional boundaries of a number of social science disciplines, as some of these territorial lines have also been drawn many centuries ago.

Today, ministries and departments of state act as if they ‘represent’ all domestic constituencies, when clearly this is not the case. Departments of food and ministries of agriculture act as if they can provide food and support farmers when effective control of food politics was usurped by agribusiness decades ago. Agencies for regulating the marketplace and offices responsible for ‘supervising’ domestic exchanges function as if globalization has not taken away the minimum conditions for their effectiveness. In a similar manner, academic specialization in international relations largely presumes that the nation-state is still the key Actor in global affairs, even when this reality has been effectively diluted in the post-WWII period.

GRI’s reconceptualization of global governance offers a new of perspective on the dynamics between the nation-state, multinational corporations, and international civil society. This section of the Readers' Guide bridges the gap between the traditional approaches and the GRI’s conceptualization of formal and informal global governance where the informal component often dominates the formal component. In doing so, it also provides a starting point from which to examine debates within specific global governance sectors and their relationship to the broader global governance issues.

As it should be clear, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done in public policy circles, in the academy, and in the wider society to fashion a new system of global governance that meets the diverse expectations in the world today and that can, at the same time, manage the complexities of globalization.
 


The Readers' Guide welcomes commentary – critical or otherwise – of the description above as well as the identification of related issues and case studies.
 

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