Rhetorical Legitimation: Global Scripts as Strategic Devices of International Organizations
45 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2011
Date Written: September 20, 2009
This paper focuses on a largely neglected aspect of legitimation in international organizations (IOs) - the rhetorical work done by IO scripts as a legitimation strategy of IOs. Based on extensive fieldwork and research from the mid-1990s to 2005 on regional and global IOs, we show that global norms for corporate bankruptcy law employ rhetorical devices in four respects. First, the normative texts produced by IOs draw upon a finite repertoire of rhetorical devices (a) to propagate legitimation warrants an IO wants visibly disseminated, (b) to amplify or compensate for IO warrants that may be weak; and (c) to articulate formal rhetorical devices that carry their own warrants of legitimation. Second, configurations of rhetorical devices in IO texts are affected by temporal contexts, such as exogenous shocks and the historical sequencing of IO norm production. Third, the negotiation of relations of IO interdependency, including competition and cooperation, are partly signaled and managed through the rhetorical constructions of respective IO products. Fourth, texts have their own properties, formal and substantive, that are crafted to be substantially self-validating.
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