Power and multistakeholderism: the structuring of spaces between fields

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Increasingly complex modes of global governance now include multistakeholder interactions between public and private sectors, and ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ country partners. A debate has arisen, with certain researchers arguing that this new multistakeholderism opens up global governance to new actors, in contrast to alternative accounts that multistakeholderism rather locks in the preferences of more powerful actors. This zero-sum game conceptualisation of multistakeholderism is an artefact of organisational field theory’s focus on the intra-field struggle to ‘win the field’. Moving beyond conventional field theory, the authors use Eyal's (2011) theorisation of ‘spaces between fields’ to conceptualise multistakeholder partnerships as inter-field spaces which are co-constructed by relations between stakeholders. Therefore, to examine these emerging spaces, the authors used network analysis to investigate relationships between partners across ten multistakeholder global financing partnerships (in climate change, education, health, and nutrition). Conceptualising multistakeholderism as spaces between fields explains how global partnerships can simultaneously democratise their membership and perpetuate existing privilege: more powerful actors can ‘win’ the space precisely by ceding ground. Moreover, using spaces between fields theory, we can identify and examine different – thus far overlooked - struggles, such as winning in the space or winning benefits from the space.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2018
EventInternational Studies Association 2018: The power of rules and rule of power - San Fransico, USA United States
Duration: 4 Apr 20187 Apr 2018


ConferenceInternational Studies Association 2018
Country/TerritoryUSA United States
CitySan Fransico
Internet address


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