Institution Building across Borders
- Using and Signifying Institutional Resources: An Analysis of the Deployment of Institutions in Multilevel Land Disputes (Alfinito Vieira)
- Governing Brothers and Sisters: Environmental Programs in Catholic Holy Orders (Gojowczyk)
- Success and Failure of Transnational Certification Schemes (Janssen)
Patent Professionalism: Transnational Governance and the Crisis of Abundance
Using and Signifying Institutional Resources: An Analysis of the Deployment of Institutions in Multilevel Land Disputes
Ana Carolina Alfinito Vieira (IMPRS-SPCE)
Over the past decade or so, a significant body of scholarship in the social sciences has turned to investigating territorial dispossession, large-scale transnational acquisition of land, and new forms of property rights over land and nature. While this literature revives classical debates on property rights, social justice, and development, it also opens up promising paths for investigating new aspects in contemporary configurations of land tenure, the dynamics of commodification of natural resources, and struggles over land. This doctoral project contributes to these debates and investigates how an existing institutional system associated with land tenure is being actively drawn on, interpreted, and mobilized in the course of contemporary struggles over land appropriation in South America, and more specifically in Brazil. The study seeks to understand and explain the processes through which actors involved in land disputes mobilize around multi-level institutional repertoires pertaining to land, how they have learned and developed their strategies of mobilization, and how different forms of mobilization impact patterns of land use within disputed territories. It addresses these questions by conducting a multi-level longitudinal analysis of cases of struggles over land in Brazil.
Project duration: October 2012 to December 2015.
Jiska Gojowczyk (IMPRS-SPCE)
We use multiple scales to evaluate human action, e.g.: Is the action just? Is it profitable? Does it lead to a particular goal? How we assess actions crucially affects social life and the way it is coordinated. Religious communities make judgments mainly based on religious teachings but also on other orders of worth and justifications such as those from ecology. Globally, these communities have begun to perceive ecological obligations as part of their religious tradition. Against this backdrop, they have increasingly formulated environmental programs over the past decade. As internal audits, best-practice data bases, or lose guidelines, these programs can be understood as internal attempts at transnational, soft regulation for local implementation. This project investigates how members of catholic holy orders assess their daily practices in light of these programs. What sort of categories, justifications, and relationships between different social actions and groups are created and negotiated? The question is explored based on multi-site ethnographic studies, focusing on the period 2000-2014. The project strives for a deep understanding of the issues and is based on document analysis, interviews, participatory observation, and focus group discussions.
Project duration: October 2012 to December 2015.
Jan-Christoph Janssen (Cologne Graduate School)
Over recent years, the responsibility of business actors for their stakeholders and the environment affected by their actions became a decisive criterion for consumption and investments. Third party evaluation and certification enable business actors to authenticate their claim of good practice. In the case of Fair Trade, those third parties evolved out of social movements in a “bottom up” manner with distinct national imprints to regulate transnational trade. This transnational certification framework is still attached to the political ideals and normative concerns of its roots – which can conflict with the inherent logic of markets. With the growing significance of certification, international umbrella organizations were founded to harmonize the efforts of national actors and “top down” processes gained in importance. The discretion of national actors has been constrained in favor of a common regulative framework for the label “Fair Trade”. This attempt to align the different strategic foci and overcome national differences caused severe conflicts about the appropriate means to empower the disadvantaged producers in the southern hemisphere. In many instances, business interests clashed with radical claims to challenge the terms of global trade.
While Fair Trade is regarded as a success story in terms of market penetration and growth, this success varies tremendously between national settings and product categories. Recently, Fair Trade USA left the common framework since it regards the means offered by the common framework as insufficient to further the growth of sales and to put stronger emphasis on business. But what are the preconditions for more or less market penetration of the certification framework? This project aims to identify the paths leading to success and failure of a transnational certification scheme by applying “Qualitative Comparative Analysis” to compare the market share of commodities across national settings.
Project duration: October 2011 to September 2014.
Markus Lang (IMPRS-SPCE)
Since the late nineteenth century, professional groups have been involved in the development of transnational patent systems. The work of patent lawyers, patent agents and information specialists became much more connected and mobile across national boundaries than in most other professions. Yet little is known about their role in managing the mass of patents granted not only in new subjects but also in new geographical areas. How did increasing numbers of patent professionals acquire jurisdiction over patent-related work? When and why did such social groups come to see patent information as a condition for the transfer of technology? And what are the consequences of professional strategies for the likelihood of litigation? This project addresses these questions by drawing on a processual theory of patent professionalism and emphasizing processes of social boundary-work and exchange across national boundaries as well as status ordering in producer markets. Empirically, this project is based on embedded case studies of professional trajectories in Germany and the United States, making use of document analysis, archival work, and quantitative analyses of patent data.
Project duration: October 2011 to December 2014.