The relationships that bind? Power and alter-globalisation networks

Gabay, Clive (2010). The relationships that bind? Power and alter-globalisation networks. PhD thesis The Open University.



Many scholars celebrate the emancipatory potential of alter-globalisation networks. This thesis tests this claim, using a case study of the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP), and analysing what the powers which constitute this network reveal about the powers of it. GCAP is one of the largest networks of its type, mobilising nearly 175 million people on a single day in 2009 via national coalitions of civil society organisations in 115 countries. The PhD research focuses on two of these national coalitions in India and Malawi, as well as GCAP's broad governance structures, and utilises semi-structured and ethnographic interviews, participant observation and documentary analysis. The data was analysed through a methodological frame of governmentality and post-governmentality literatures, to analyse the full range of discourses and agencies which construct GCAP. The thesis interrogates the agency of GCAP through an exploration of three power-related themes, namely: the relationships GCAP enacts with processes of statist and neo-liberal hegemony; how GCAP develops relations of solidarity across distance; and the manner in which GCAP constructs subjects of legitimation. The thesis finds that GCAP embodies a monitored subjectivity vis-A-vis statist and neo-liberal hegemonic power, yet also retains a monitory agency on those powers. It furthermore finds that relations of solidarity developed in GCAP between areas of structural advantage and disadvantage are imbued with both colonial and postcolonial discourses, which simultaneously buttress and contest neoliberal discourses of managerialism, resource-dependency and the fetishisation of 'the poor'. These different sets of relations construct GCAP with a contingent, contradictory, yet at times emancipatory and transcendent subjectivity. By creating a snapshot of an alter-globalisation network in diverse social contexts, this thesis reveals the ways in which the power of such networks is uneven and immanent, dependent upon confluences of the various internal and external powers which constitute them.

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