Constructing the Information Society: The Binding Nature of Nonbinding Debates About Internet Governance
32 Pages Posted: 13 Jul 2016
Date Written: August 15, 2010
The formally nonbinding status of numerous Internet governance debates is one of the distinctive markers of this unique exercise in contemporary, global policymaking. According to some stakeholders the fact that the discussions are not binding allows a freer and more open deliberation of contested topics. According to others, this very same attribute makes the nonbinding fora toothless, rendering them harmless socializing events. In practice, however, the Internet governance debates may not be as open, and also may not be as toothless. This paper analyzes how the language of the debate carries biding properties and how it becomes the mechanism of policy agenda setting and framing of the Internet governance related issues. Building on discourse analysis of the World Telecommunication Policy Forum meeting in 2009 and its preparatory processes, this study develops an argument about the role of nonbinding consensus in creating discursive permanency and continuity throughout the policy debate. It provides examples of territory contestation and arguments about definitions of Internet governance as illustration for the binding nature of non-binding debates.
Keywords: Internet governance, Internet policy, discourse analysis, discursive turn, politics of problem definition, World Telecommunication Policy Forum, GigaNet
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