In Discreet Power, Christina Garsten and Adrienne Soerbom undertake an ethnographic study of the World Economic Forum (WEF). Accessing one of the primary agenda-setting organizations of our day, they draw on interviews and participant observation to examine how the WEF wields its influence. They situate the WEF within an emerging system of "discretionary governance," in which actors craft ideas and entice formal authorities and top leaders in order to garner significant sway. Yet in spite of its image as a powerful, exclusive brain trust, the WEF has no formal mandate to implement its positions. It must convince others to advance chosen causes and enact suggestions, rendering its position quite fragile.
Garsten and Soerbom argue that the WEF must be viewed relationally as a brokering organization that lives between the market and political spheres and that extends its reach through associated individuals and groups.They place the WEF in the context of a broader shift, arguing that while this type of governance opens up novel ways of dealing with urgent global problems, it challenges core democratic values.
Publisher: Stanford University Press
Number of pages: 240
Dimensions: 229 x 152 mm
"In this informative study, Carsten and Soerbom explore both the inner workings and the communication strategies of the World Economic Forum....[T]he authors conclude that the WEF does perform a useful service, even if it is biased toward elite perceptions." -- Richard N. Cooper * Foreign Affairs *
"Between raw forces of the global economy and disordered world politics lie organizations that are neither political nor economic. The World Economic Forum is central among these structures. Garsten and Soerbom give a most impressive depiction and analysis of its role-responsible but undemocratic-in what is now called global governance." -- John W. Meyer * Stanford University *