IOs as Social Sites: Does how an IO take up a Norm affect the Norm’s Strength?

Susan M. Park, Antje Vetterlein

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperResearchpeer-review


    Norms research has made significant inroads into examining their emergence and influence in international relations, while recognizing international organizations (IOs) as key social sites for norms to be created and/or disseminated. This paper interrogates how IOs as “organizational platforms” (Finnemore 1996) influence the norm building process. Going beyond state-centric approaches to norm construction, it argues that the process of taking up a norm by an IO does affect the norm’s power. A norm’s strength is determined by the extent to which it is uncontested and taken for granted as appropriate for actors with a given identity, which becomes institutionalized and internalized over time. Building on recent work that details how a norm’s strength is also derived from its specificity, the article assesses how the different ways an IO adopts norms may affect the norm’s power. The article provides a taxonomy of norm power according to degrees of institutionalization, internalization and specificity, arguing that the strength of a norm is derived from the norm building process, where a norm may be generated from outside or inside the organization, or from top-down or bottom up processes. Viewing the norm building process in this way provides insight into the effect of IOs as social sites in strengthening a norm.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2014
    Number of pages21
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    Event55th ISA Annual Convention: International Studies Association Conference 2014 - Toronto, Canada
    Duration: 26 Mar 201429 Mar 2014
    Conference number: 55


    Conference55th ISA Annual Convention
    Internet address

    Bibliographical note

    Presented under the title: "The Power of Norms: Norm Decline in International Organizations".

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