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By Elizabeth Friesen

Friesen demonstrates how transnational CSOs and NGOs can effect the context during which overseas political judgements are made. She exhibits how, via reframing the problems, the transnational crusade for the cancellation of 3rd international debt altered the dominant discourse, shifted the agenda and thereby formed political results.

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Extra resources for Challenging Global Finance: Civil Society and Transnational Networks

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At first it seemed that a new era in global finance might be taking shape, and yet civil society actors have not pressed their advantage. In stark contrast to the campaign for the cancellation of third world debt, more recent calls for financial responsibility and social justice are weak and confused. For example, in 2010 during the G8/G20 the demands of campaigning NGOs for a “Robin Hood” tax, an international financial transactions levy, were marginalized and, in the popular press, confused with calls for a “bank tax”.

Finally, any discussion of the construction of international finance is incomplete unless the power of normative ideas is considered but these ideas do not appear in a vacuum. As discussed above power relations constrain, shape and facilitate the outcomes of political contestation, and it is important to understand not only visible and obvious conflict, but also the dynamics of hidden or latent conflict situations which underpin the rules and practices governing international finance. It is simply impossible to remove politics from market relations.

As Lukes argues, the capacity to set the agenda, to determine the rules of the game in a given time and place and to have them widely accepted as self evident and as the most reasonable choice represents the highest level of power (Lukes 1974: 25). Lukes’ concept of power is particularly useful in understanding processes of contestation and change in a globalizing world. In Lukes’ (1974: 25) essay on power he presents three “views” of power. According to him, the “one dimensional view of power” focuses on the power relations inherent in decision making and observable overt conflict.

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