Global Government Networks, Global Information Agencies, and Disaggregated Democracy
42 Pages Posted: 20 Sep 2001
Can global governance be democratic? The public debate on this issue largely assumes that the modernist conception of democracy as tied to an identifiable territory and polity cannot be globalized without a world government. Various post-modernist theorists offer a set of alternatives based on a redefinition of democracy, the state, democracy, and law. Individuals with plural selves can govern themselves through participation in multiple networks of public and private actors that together define the state. The results are heady, exciting, and likely to be unintelligible to the vast majority of policymakers, activists, and citizens who seek to achieve specific goals in an age of globalization, information, and politicization. This essay instead develops a typology of more concrete and prosaic accountability problems connected with a rapidly growing form of global governance -- transgovernmental regulatory networks. These "government networks" are networks of national government officials exchanging information, coordinating national policies, and working together to address common problems. After a brief overview of the literature on transgovernmentalism since the 1970s in Part I, Part II sets forth a typology of three different categories of government networks. Part III then seeks to pinpoint the specific accountability concerns associated with each type. Part IV offers one approach to answering some current accountability concerns by adapting the concept of "information agencies" from the European Union to the global level. Part V briefly surveys various reconceptualizations of democracy and distills various elements of these visions that could be useful in strengthening the democratic pedigree of government networks. It concludes with an appeal to add global legislative networks to the pluralist mix of global governance mechanisms.
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