World Politics

Review Article

Transnational Civil Society and Advocacy in World Politics

Richard Price*

Susan Burgerman. Moral Victories: How Activists Provoke Multilateral Action. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2001, 186 pp.

Ann Marie Clark. Diplomacy of Conscience: Amnesty International and Changing Human Rights Norms. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2001, 183 pp.

Matthew Evangelista. Unarmed Forces: The Transnational Movement to End the Cold War. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1999, 406 pp.

Ann Florini, ed. The Third Force: The Rise of Transnational Civil Society. Tokyo and Washington: Japan Center for International Change and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1999, 295 pp.

Richard Higgott, Geoffrey Underhill, and Andreas Bieler. Non-State Actors and Authority in the Global System. New York: Routledge, 2000, 301 pp.

Margaret Keck and Kathryn Sikkink. Activists beyond Borders: Advocacy Networks in International Politics. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1988, 227 pp.

Sanjeev Khagram, James V. Riker, and Kathryn Sikkink, eds. Restructuring World Politics: Transnational Social Movements, Networks, and Norms. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002, 366 pp.

This article takes stock of a plethora of recent works examining the flowering of transnational civil society activism in world politics. The author argues that this work contributes to a progressive research agenda that responds to a succession of criticisms from alternative perspectives. As the research program has advanced, new areas of inquiry have been opened up, including the need for a central place for normative international theory. The author also contends that the focus of this research on the transnationalization of civil society provides a trenchant response to an important puzzle concerning the leverage of civil society vis-à-vis the contemporary state in an era of globalization. Further, the liberal variant of transnational advocacy research constitutes a powerful theoretical counter not only to other nonliberal theories that privilege other agents or structures but also to other varieties of contemporary liberal international theory, such as those privileging preexisting domestic preference formation or state centric versions of liberal constructivism.

Richard Price is an associate professor of political science at the University of British Columbia. He is the author of The Chemical Weapons Taboo (1997) and coeditor of The United Nations and Global Security (forthcoming). He has written numerous articles on the origins and impact of international norms and constructivist international relations theory.

* The author thanks Christian Reus-Smit, Lisa Mclntosh Sundstrom, Katherine Morton, and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on earlier drafts of this article.