Symbolic Power in the World Trade Organization (Hardback)
  • Symbolic Power in the World Trade Organization (Hardback)

Symbolic Power in the World Trade Organization (Hardback)

Hardback 274 Pages / Published: 13/12/2012
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Questions of power are central to understanding global trade politics and no account of the World Trade Organization (WTO) can afford to avoid at least an acknowledgment of the concept. A closer examination of power can help us to explain why the structures and rules of international commerce take their existing forms, how the actions of countries are either enabled or disabled, and what distributional outcomes are achieved. However, within conventional accounts, there has been a tendency to either view power according to a single reading - namely the direct, coercive sense - or to overlook the concept entirely, focusing instead on liberal cooperation and legalization. In this book, Matthew Eagleton-Pierce shows that each of these approaches betray certain limitations which, in turn, have cut short, or worked against, more critical appraisals of power in transnational capitalism. To expand the intellectual space, the book investigates the complex relationship between power and legitimation by drawing upon Pierre Bourdieu's notion of symbolic power. A focus on symbolic power aims to alert scholars to how the construction of certain knowledge claims are fundamental to, and entwined within, the material struggle for international trade. Empirically, the argument uncovers and plots the recent strategies adopted by Southern countries in their pursuit of a more equitable trading order. By bringing together insights from political economy, sociology, and law, Symbolic Power in the WTO not only enlivens and enriches the study of diplomatic practice within a major multilateral institution, it also advances the broader understanding of power in world politics.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199662647
Number of pages: 274
Weight: 562 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 21 mm

The contributions of this book are many. In theoretical terms, it pushes the study of power in new directions. Eagleton-Pierce's greatest achievement lies in showing how Bourdieu's symbolic power supplements Foucault's discursive power by bringing agency back in. Further, this book joins a small but important body of literature that approaches political economy from a political sociology perspective. * Vincent Pouliot, International Affairs *
Symbolic Power in the World Trade Organization can undoubtedly be seen as a strong debut by a promising scholar. Eagleton-Pierce writes clearly and efficiently; the concepts and ideas brought in are always defined and operationally discussed.Potential readers should not avoid this book because it seems to concentrate only on the WTO; this rich conceptual framework centred on symbolic power could easily be transposed to other world organisations and NGOs for future studies. * Yves Laberge, LSE Review of Books *
Typically, dominant (hegemonic) actors at the WTO, principally the United States and European Union, wield and reinforce their symbolic power, thereby controlling the trade agenda and negotiations. However, heterodox forces, represented by certain coalitions of developing countries, have at times succeeded in altering the framework of trade debates, and thereby the orthodoxy of multilateral trade liberalization. Eagleton-Pierce illustrates the battle over symbolic power with two examples: the West African Cotton-4 debate that erupted at the Cancun Ministerial, and the evolution of agricultural special product exemptions for developing countries in the Doha negotiations. [He shows how] language certainly matters in the WTO ... and that new concepts and terms can have real effects in trade negotiations. * Kent Jones, World Trade Review *
Symbolic Power in the World Trade Organization is a deft adaptation and innovative extension of Bourdieu's theory of classification struggles to probe the ordinary workings and submerged politics of multilateral negotiations on the global scene. Eagleton-Pierce guides us through the labyrinth of policy negotiations over Southern agricultural policy from the Uruguay Round to the Doha agreement to demonstrate how attending to the symbolic modalities of domination both complements and challenges "compulsory" and "institutional" conceptions of power. With its intriguing mix of painstaking analytical elaboration and patient empirical parsing, this book sounds a double call for international political economy to add Bourdieu to its conceptual arsenal and to revise its methodologies to grasp how nations battle, rule, or submit beneath and beyond the ambit of material constraint and legal suasion. * Loic Wacquant,University of California at Berkeley *
Symbolic Power in the World Trade Organization is a breath of fresh air in a notoriously dry, overly orthodox and all-too-often unimaginative field. Critical, innovative and persuasive throughout, this is the book we should all be reading and a standard by which we should judge future works on the WTO. * Professor Rorden Wilkinson, Professor of International Political Economy, University of Manchester *
This new monograph offers an exciting and long overdue account of symbolic power in international trade politics, from an author who combines great theoretical sophistication with an admirable lightness of touch. As the World Trade Organisation undergoes a period of post-Doha reflection and reinvention, it stands as a timely and important intervention, offering both a fresh perspective on how we got where we are, as well as a useful conceptual apparatus for rethinking possible futures for this vital international economic organisation. * Dr Andrew Lang, Reader in Law, London School of Economics *

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