Author Archives: David Soucek

Emergence and Assimilation of Practice in Global Governance:
The Example of Arms Embargo Monitoring by United Nations Panels of Experts

How do practices emerge and stabilize in global governance? Global governance is a vast domain consisting of an intricate web of international governmental and non-governmental organizations, think-tanks, and state agencies, some of which are ­furthermore characterized by internal organizational difficulties and conflicting interests. Despite this apparent disorder, practices emerge and converge across different actors involved in global governance. While one might suspect that self-interested intervention by powerful states drives this convergence, my research points to the importance of social dynamics at the level of practitioners. In this text, I synthesize some of my arguments and results.
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Transparency, Propaganda and Disinformation:
“Managing” Anticorruption Information in China

In corruption studies, transparency is often discussed as a quality of public services or public administration, a quality that helps to reduce corruption. This is not what this article focuses on, however. Instead, the focus of this article is the quality of the access to information related to corruption and anticorruption in China and how that affects our understanding about corruption. In this article, such information includes both factual and propagandistic information, the two of which are very often intermeshed and lumped together for presentation. For this reason, it is even more important for us to be aware of this distinction in the discussion. …
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Electronic Democracy Boom in Ukraine

During the dramatic regime change in Kyiv and hostilities in Crimea and Donbas in early 2014, Ukrainian people have enhanced their skills of mobilization for social action. Later they channeled their efforts towards institutional change, in particular, promoting e-participation. The Revolution of Dignity has triggered participation, openness of authorities, and support by international organizations, which accelerated the advance of digital democracy in Ukraine. …
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Extinction of the Welfare State:
Revisiting The History of Modernization Theory

It is widely believed that modernization theory is an outdated theoretical concept developed by a number of American positivists after the end of World War II. Nowadays many researchers view it as a naïve attempt to reconstruct the post-war global order according to a scientifically proven recipe for promoting and supporting liberal welfare states all over the world. Indeed, after “the end of history” promise in the beginning of the 1990s, it seemed that the need for welfarism had faded away. …
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Clowns, Trouble Makers or Freedom Fighters?
Understanding ‘Opposition’ in Authoritarian States

This is a summary of my presentation at the IWM Visiting Fellows conference in which I strived to problematize ‘opposition’ and its role in authoritarian regimes. My talk highlighted how in the case of Belarus the concept of opposition is misunderstood and misguides the understanding of political processes. Looking at state, public, and oppositional discourses I showed how they are all reinforcing the image of opposition as ‘failed’ which I argued contributes to the consolidation of the Belarusian authoritarian regime.
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Political Order in Changing Societies

The IWM Junior Fellows Conference, “Political Order in Changing Societies” took place on the 19th December 2017 at the IWM Library. The theme for this year’s conference sought to link the diverse work of the visiting fellows and to accentuate the common thread that runs through all our projects – that is, a desire to …
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IWMpost 122

With contributions by Timothy Snyder, John Palattella, Ulrike Lunacek, Elisabeth Holzleithner, David Goodhart, Ruth Wodak, Anthony Barnett, Michael J. Sandel, Shalini Randeria, Tobias Bernet, Robert Skidelsky, Paul Hahnenkamp, Tatiana Urdaneta Wittek, Ranabir Samaddar, Jacques Rupnik, Sergey Chapnin …
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The EU Project of Europe: The ‘Inclusion – Exclusion’ Game?

The paper tackles the EU as a version of Europe’s geopolitical configuration and the concept of Europe as it has been implied or articulated at different stages of its development. The demarcation line is drawn between the “Old” EU in the shadow of the bipolar world structure and the “New” EU after its expansion eastwards. The theoretical framework of the research involves symbolic geography and ideology studies. The focal point would be the gap between Western and Central-European Europe in their imaginaries concerning themselves, ‘Europe’ as a symbolic entity, and strategic positioning of themselves within this entity. The range of questions to be posed in the context contains the following: What does the geocultural notion of ‘Europe’ imply? Is the EU as ‘Europe’ functioning as an inclusive project as it ultimately declares, or has exclusion always been its flip side? And how do different parts of ‘Europe’ correspond to each other within the EU project?
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Reinventing Central Europe and the Decline of Marxism:
Czech “Orientalism” through the Lens of Intellectual History

In my paper I focus on the profound intellectual change that occurred during 1970s and 1980s when the belief that communism can be reformed gradually disappeared among the majority of intellectuals both in the East and in the West with the growing condemnation of Marxism as the ideology that gave birth to communist totalitarianism. Following Tony Judt analysis I argue that the decline of Marxism as a political theory since the 1970s and the increasing attention towards Central Europe are two interrelated processes, both among Eastern and Western leftist intellectual. Once they stopped identifying themselves with Marxist political theory and gave up Marxist political language, geopolitical arrangements were likewise reconsidered. Such geopolitical exceptionalism ultimately produced the new imagination of boundaries between former “socialist brothers” (those belonging to Central Europe and those outside). Thus, new ways of hierarchy appeared, sometimes bringing back a new (occasionally chauvinist) form of nationalism, which seemed to have, at the time, a special liberating potential against unifying Soviet claims. Such disillusionment led to a gradual de-legitimization of Marxism and communism and its externalization beyond Europe. This process ended, beside to other things, with a production of a hostile discourse towards Russia and Eastern Europe – a discourse which helped to shape a new Central European exclusivism: in comparison with the rest of the Eastern block, Central Europe was seen as an exceptional region with distinctive and more “Western” cultural qualities.
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Particularity and Exception: Ethnographic Commitments and Moral Exemplars

This paper takes up the idea of exception from the perspective of anthropology. For a discipline with sustained commitments to ethnographic particularism as well as to the generation of theoretical models, the exception appears not as a taken-for-granted status of certain cases with respect to pre-given rules. Rather, exceptions are actively made and unmade through the interpretive and social practices in which both anthropologists and their interlocutors in the field engage. The people of Hunza, Northern Pakistan engage the tropes of geographic, political and religious exceptionalism that have defined them in the eyes of outsiders in efforts to create social boundaries and exclusions regionally while simultaneously forging bonds of relatedness with valued others. The paper concludes that the designation of exceptional cases is a form of social action that takes place against the background of rules and expectations that are pervasively, rather than occasionally, normative, and that its implications are always at least potentially moral.
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