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Reconstructing World Politics: Norms, Discourse, and Community

67 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2012 Last revised: 17 Jul 2013

Sungjoon Cho

Chicago Kent College of Law

Date Written: February 24, 2012


This Article argues that the conventional (rationalist) approach to world politics characterized by political bargain cannot fully capture the new social reality under the contemporary global ambience where ideational factors such as ideas, values, culture, and norms have become more salient and influential not only in explaining but also in prescribing state behaviors. After bringing rationalism’s paradigmatic limitations into relief, the Article offers a sociological framework that highlights a reflective, intersubjective communication among states and consequent norm-building process. Under this new paradigm, one can understand an international organization as a “community” (Gemeinschaft), not as a mere contractual instrument of its contracting parties (Gesellschaft). The Article applies the new paradigm to the World Trade Organization (WTO) as it describes the WTO’s institutional evolution from a power-oriented, tariff-reducing contract to a norm-oriented world trade community.

Keywords: world politics, international trade, international relations, World Trade Organization, rationalism

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Cho, Sungjoon, Reconstructing World Politics: Norms, Discourse, and Community (February 24, 2012). Chicago-Kent College of Law Research Paper No. 2012-12. Available at SSRN: or

Sungjoon Cho (Contact Author)

Chicago Kent College of Law ( email )

565 W. Adams St.
Chicago, IL 60661-3691
United States

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