The Normalization of Contestation: The Sociology of Knowledge and Endogenous Challenges to the Liberal International Order

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Many of the in-built contradictions in the liberal international order were pointed out by critics early on. Why were these voices not heard? How was contestation ignored or made acceptable by the people governing within liberal sub-orders, articulating progress, rationality, and equality? Drawing on insights from the sociology of knowledge and theories of organizational culture, I address this puzzle through the lens of the ‘normalization of deviance’. Beyond understanding the challenges as a crisis of and within the liberal international order, I argue that they unveil the limitations of hegemonic expertise governing this order. Part of the current predicament of the liberal international order has to do with the entrenched positioning and organizational cultures of political leaders and experts, making them blind to their own blindness. As they justify deviations and defend ‘their’ order, they normalize contestation. The implications extend beyond the immediate challenges to the liberal international order, offering insights into reimagining its future and prompting a reconsideration of the discipline dedicated to understanding it.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Studies Quarterly
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024

    Research areas

  • Faculty of Social Sciences - sociology of knowledge, liberal international order, normalization of deviance, organizational culture

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