Competition as a Global Socio-Legal Norm

Melike Arslan

Market competition is not an ontological reality with a fixed meaning and objectively observable components. Instead, it is a “norm,” akin to other norms, such as “democracy” or “human rights,” continuously contested and recreated. The project analyzes this norm using the case of antitrust (competition) laws and policies and looks at its development at the international, national, and subnational levels. At the international level, it evaluates how authoritative definitions of competition are created by the international organizations that aim to harmonize national antitrust policies. At the national level, it inquires how the law enforcement and advocacy functions of national antitrust authorities shape the national norms on market competition. At the subnational level, it investigates how competition law professionals translate the abstract orders of the law into day-to-day corporate practices through consulting and compliance programs. Together, these different layers of research offer a transnational and historical account of how authoritative standards on market competition have emerged, diffused, diverged, and shaped liberal market economies in the last four decades. The project seeks to contribute to sociological theories on markets, laws, professions, and organizations.

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