Professorship of the Cluster of Excellence – Transnational Governance (Prof. Dr. Jens Steffek)

The research of the professorship for transnational governance is situated at the intersection of the traditional analysis of international relations, research on transnational civil society and normative questions of political theory, in particular democratic theory. These different strands of research are connected in a focus on the legitimation of governance beyond the state.
Legitimation as a social process and legitimacy as its result are marked by the interpenetration of an empirical and a normative dimension. In the concept of legitimacy the empirical validation of a political order becomes dependent on normative assessments of correctness and appropriateness. Emanating from this core concept and a research interest informed both by empirical analysis and normative theory we seek to develop a new critical perspective on the governance of transnational political problems and conflicts.
Our activities fall into three areas of research:
(1) In the first area we study legitimation narratives in transnational governance, with a focus on justifications of international organizations as functional agencies. The central thesis is that the advance of formal international (governmental and non-governmental) organizations since the 19th century is part of the bureaucratization of political rule outlined by Max Weber. Therefore, it can be legitimated only in a rational-legal fashion.
(2) The second area targets the legitimation potentials of institutionalized civil society participation in international organizations. The key finding is that the participation of non-state actors in governance can give rise to a political public sphere (within certain limits) but is scarcely able to counteract the underlying trend toward technocratic governance.
(3) In the third area we were interested in the nexus between global order and the social question – from a historical perspective but also with a view to recent developments such as the climate change treaties negotiated over the last decades. Regarding the possible end of redistributive multilateralism, it seems that the shift from legally codified to voluntary emission reduction goals, which began in Copenhagen and was reaffirmed in Paris in 2015, is changing the dominant conceptions of justice in climate policy. The notion of rectifying historical injustice through international political measures is losing ground.

The most important publications of this rofessorships of the Cluster of Excellence:

Holthaus, Leonie & Jens Steffek: “Experiments in International Administration. The Forgotten Functionalism of James Arthur Salter”, in: Review of International Studies 42(1), 2016, pp. 114-135.

McGee, Jeffrey & Jens Steffek: “The Copenhagen Turn in Global Climate Governance and the Contentious History of Differentiation in International Law”, in: Journal of Environmental Law Vol. 28(1), 2016, pp. 37-63.

Steffek, Jens: “Max Weber, Modernity and the Project of International Organization”, in: Cambridge Review of International Affairs, FirstView, DOI: 10.1080/09557571.2015.1020481, 2015.

Steffek, Jens. “The Cosmopolitanism of David Mitrany: Equality, Devolution, and Functional Democracy beyond the State”, International Relations 29(1), 2015,  pp. 23-44.

Steffek, Jens: „Fascist Internationalism“, in: Millennium: Journal of International Studies 44(1), 2015, pp. 3-22.


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