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Combining Hegemony and Governmantality to Explain Global Governance

Jonathan Joseph


This article looks at the possibility of a meaningful relationship between the concepts of hegemony and governmentality. It does this by applying the combined concepts to the realm of international relations and to issues of global governance. It interrogates the two concepts by looking at the conditions of possibility and modes of expression. It does this through a critical realist approach to social reality, arguing that hegemony and governmentality operate within a structures and stratified social field where they intersect and overlap. It argues that the two concepts have their own strengths and weaknesses. Hegemony is better at relating governance to underlying social relations and it emphasises the longer-term strategic element in governance projects. Governmentality is better at highlighting the rationalities that underlie forms of governance. Hegemony better helps us to understand such things as institutional context, the role of social and class forces, how particular interests are represented and how political projects are constructed. Governmentality is much better at showing us the specific techniques and technologies of power. While hegemony might provide the better link to the social context, governmentality better shows how this finds its expression in particular forms of governance. These arguments are applied to neoliberal forms of governance and used to analyse the changing role of the state in international politics. The article addresses issues of structure and agency and poses the question of how governance is constructed.

Keywords: Hegemony, Governmentality, Governance, Critical Realism, Marxism, Neoliberalism

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