Leonie Holthaus | 2021

Practice Theory and the Opening Up of International Organizations

In: Global Studies Quarterly, Volume 1, Issue 3, September 2021

Scholars researching international organizations’ (IO) inclusion of transnational and local civil society organization (CSO) have provided compelling insights; however, according to their self-evaluation, many of these insights remain at a general level. Against this backdrop, I propose two complementary claims. First, I identify a bias in the literature that has focused on large, Western IOs. What non-Western or small IOs do and how their practices interact with CSO inclusion in different localities is often missed. Second, based on bourgeoning practice theoretical literature on IOs and CSOs, I claim that practice theory can add to research on IO-CSO. In spite of internal pluralism, practice theory refines constructivist methodologies for zooming in on IOs’ internal dynamics, daily practices, and performances of the practice of CSO inclusion, including in IO country offices. On the basis of my own field research, I also suggest that the practice of CSO inclusion interacts with power, gender, and race dynamics. In sum, practice theory can inform research on marginalized and often power-ridden specificities among and within IOs in relation to IO-CSO interaction.

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