Capitalism, Globalisation and Democracy

Democracy and capitalism are often thought of as congruently developing phenomena. We argue that this has indeed been the case on the nation-state level but that the 21st century capitalist world economy requires policy responses that are not compatible with traditional, nationally-oriented conceptions of democracy, sovereignty and legitimacy. As such, we propose that it is necessary for policy makers to redefine and distinguish between local, national and global competences in governance if they are to rule in an efficient and democratic manner.

The EU’s democratic deficit and the relative weakness of the European parliament testify to the impossibility of exporting democratic governance to the international arena. National identity, or another identity that homogenizes the demos, is a requisite for democracy. In contrast to the nation-state, the emerging world economy does not homogenize political identity. Rather, we suggest that it is more likely that globalization reinforces identity so that it remains fixed on the level of the territorially-bounded state.

The global capitalist economy, in contrast, creates global actors – primarily in the form of multinational corporations – which might best be thought of as nomadic. To them, and the factors of production they possess, territory matters very little. This creates a problem for the nation-state as it allows these actors to exploit the limitations of state power imposed on it by its territoriality.

Rather than politicize global issues, policy-makers need to promote public awareness of the limitations of state power and reify popular conceptions of democracy, sovereignty and legitimacy if they are to ever be successfully applied to the reality of the global capitalist economy. We believe that clearly distinguishing on socio-economic grounds between the local, national and global levels of governance would be a good start.

Joren Bailliere & Kuba Neneman

European Politics, Society and Economics, BSc.





Rebranding NATO: From Nuclear Stand Off to Nation Builders

This paper critically assesses how the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has transformed itself from the antithesis of the Warsaw Pact into an organisation increasingly focused on resolving state failure and nation building. This refocusing represents a step change, from a defensive military alliance opposing communism, to one spreading democracy and human rights; a significant change in doctrine as NATO seeks to redefine and justify its existence in a new century devoid of the USSR, with new and unfamiliar power relations developing. From Somalia to Afghanistan, and possible future engagements in Yemen, Iran and other states, NATO has had to deal with a different kind of battle, both militarily and politically, as its role and the way it sees itself changes.

Utilising case studies this paper will explore how NATO has achieved such a radical strategic and doctrinal change, and how it has adapted its military and political structure from one geared to reacting to The Cold War turning hot, to one able to carry out the long term commitments of nation-building. Its failings and successes, both preparing for, and carrying out nation building, be it via economic, governance or developmental means, will be explored, as well as how NATO might change its military make up as it seeks to adapt to the all too common dichotomy of nation building, short sharp high intensity warfare to longer term military occupations. Overall, however, this paper will assert how NATO may best place itself to carry out its new role, via a smarter military make up and more streamlined and integrated military-developmental relations so that it might best place itself to successfully build nations capably of surviving in the 21st Century.

Jonathan Priestley

2nd Year Economics and Political Science (Joint Honours) BSc




“The Real Question Is: ‘Do We Want To Stop North Korea?” – The Realist Approach in the Korean Peninsula Crisis.

This presentation gives voice to the growing concerns on the ongoing crisis in Korean Peninsula. Since state’s withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2003 and its nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, the international community has been put on an emotional rollercoaster whether or not North Korea will use the nuclear weapons on its neighbors and other powers.

This paper addresses the following key question:  is the international community capable to work together to prevent North Korea further building and using its nuclear weapons? China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States have different agendas on this issue and they may change their policies, depending on the conditions at the particular time. The last developments showed relatively little cooperation between all parties. As such, we will witness the conflict of interest of key actors, which may lead to no conclusion whatsoever on North Korea’s nuclear potential. This, in turn, will determine the global security in the region and the world, as well as how the international community will react to the future nuclearization of other states.

The current politics in Korean peninsula largely determines many debates and topics in contemporary affairs. One of them is a normative discussion whether states (including the non-democratic) are allowed to pursue the nuclear programs. Secondly, the ineffective policy of the United States poses questions on America’s power in world politics. Thirdly, North Korea might be one of the first examples where China faces the consequences of becoming a global power and its responsibility in the international arena.

Dominika Kaczkowska

2nd Year European Politics, Society and Economics, BSc.




A Social Constructivist Interpretation of US Military Deployment

This paper seeks to use the historic self-determination of ‘manifest destiny’ and Wilsonian espousals of self-determination to examine the construction of America as a democratic ‘beacon’ to the free world. This identity defines US foreign policy in the advancement of liberal-democratic values as a normative global consensus; particularly through the creation of a binary international framework in which democratic states are ‘allies’ and nonconforming states form a de facto opposition.

This notion is primarily explored through an analysis of US activity within international security organisations and current American military deployment within Europe and the Far East. Such examination suggests the US uses tactical military deployment to increase its global influence, maintain the unipolar world order and provide a militarised platform from which liberal-democratic values can be advanced through publicly acceptable mediums such as the UN and World Bank.

This constructed image creates several limitations regarding unitary activity, and these are illustrated through an examination of the ‘coalition of the willing’ against Iraq, the isolating label of ‘rogue states’ and the use of binary discourse inherent within the ‘war on terror’ to create an international framework of “collective identity”.

It is finally concluded that US foreign policy is heavily influenced by political constructions of ‘leadership’ and the ‘democratic beacon’. America’s tactical military deployment is used to maintain a unipolar system and provide a secure platform from which the normative values of liberal democracy can be espoused through international organisations (UN, NATO, etc.), thus fulfilling the democratic logic of appropriateness and limiting the binary oppositions.

Anthony Maher

 2nd Year Political Science BA




Women’s Rights in the USA: The Influence of the Abortion Debate

Abortions are considered as a woman’s human right. However, in one of the most advanced countries, the USA, abortions were illegal in most States since 1973. The famous Supreme Court Decision, Roe v. Wade changed that. Nevertheless, the debate on abortions is still current and it has a serious impact on US politics. This year’s presidential race and especially the Republican primary election delegates gave a lot of emphasis on the debate, specifically after the new Birth Control Mandate by the Obama administration that requires all health care plans provide coverage at no cost for all contraceptive methods.

This mandate gave the opportunity to the Conservative Christian Right to influence even more the presidential race by attacking not only the Obama administration but also anyone who did not express a clear – pro – life – view on the debate. However, the main issue in the whole debate is that it undermines women’s human rights in the USA by not giving them the chance to defend their right to “decide independently in all matters related to reproduction” (Human Rights Watch). One example of that is that during the congressional hearing for the birth control mandate only male religious leaders were present.

This paper aims to introduce the audience to the abortion debate in the USA and its impact on US politics and women’s rights. First of all, it will examine the role the abortion debate has played on the 2012 presidential race with a special focus on the GOP Republican Primary elections. In addition, it will examine the way the conservative Christian Right has influenced the abortion discussion and the presidential race. Last but not least, the presentation will conclude that the debate on abortion rights during the presidential race has had a negative impact on women’s rights in the USA.

Marianthi Karakoulaki




The veil ban in Europe: A triumph of the far right

I propose a paper that examines the way far right ideas have infiltrated European mainstream politics and translated into concrete benchmark policies on the empirical basis of the ‘veil ban’ that has recently swept across Europe. The tone of this campaign corresponds to the common characteristic exhibited in far right’s platforms across Europe – the notorious preoccupation with immigration and especially immigrants of non-European Muslim origin that has framed their presence as a threat. To that end, the behaviour of the centre right has been instrumental in legitimizing aspects of the far-right agenda.

I follow the way the centre is engaging in the same discourse commonly used by the far right and explore the link between the far right’s position on the veil issue and the subsequent government initiatives using the empirical cases of four countries: France, Belgium, Italy & the Netherlands. The practical reach of the law is actually quite limited, as estimates in the countries reveal that a very small number of women are wearing a full veil in reality. Discussing the meaning of the veil as a social construction, the conception and implementation of the ban are considered a political statement of a far right character conveying a negative perception of the Muslim presence in Europe, running the risk of legitimizing in the eyes of the public a theme that is in essence part of a broader discriminatory, Islamophobic discursive practice. The law in focus here is highly significant for European political dynamics as it touches on the soft issue of culture, identity and values and thus indicates that the concept of immigrants as a threat is expanding its content and legitimacy under far right’s influence.

Dobryana Daskalova




”Women’s issues”: acknowledging reality or reinforcing hierarchy

The concept of “women’s issues” is prevalent in the mainstream-media and politics today, the prominence of policy discussions relating to childcare, education and maternity-rights is often regarded as a victory for feminism. This paper examines avenues of grassroots female contributions to public discourse, from “Mumsnet” to “Slutwalk”, and assesses whether such contemporary predominantly female groups enhance or inhibit the emancipation of women in the UK as compared to mixed groups. On a theoretical level it analyses whether “women’s issues” are a reflection of the priorities of women in today’s social world and a useful tool for politicising women, or whether implicit within the concept is the notion that women are primarily concerned with issues surrounding their traditionally assigned roles and that these are deemed comparatively unimportant. Also relevant is the extent to which areas not encompassed within “women’s issues” are viewed as the concern of the female-population, and the role of the media and political-system in endorsing prevailing attitudes.

This paper finds that the concept of “women’s issues” is destructive to the feminist cause; whilst targeting women specifically once served to politicise a gender it is now an out-dated tool, implicit in its current use is the concept that women are principally concerned with issues regarding the roles traditionally assigned to them by the patriarchal-capitalist system. It further argues that exclusively female groups contributing to public discourse often cater to a patriarchal view of women as defined by their sexuality and/or maternal instinct.
The paper concludes that the bourgeois-democratic system and the mainstream-media present “women’s issues” as secondary to the concerns of men and imply that the latter are more politically aware – focused on “human issues”. Such thinking relegates women to the position of “significant minority” and represents a barrier for female emancipation.

Laura J. Riley




Re-theorising Cameronism

The existing literature on Cameronism, despite its disputes, seems to generally draw on some combination of a core set of tenets: the perception of Cameronism as an electoral strategy, the noting of Cameronism’s occupation with deficit reduction, a debate over whether Cameronism is a brand of One-Nation or New Right conservatism, a focus on Cameronism’s employment of modernisation discourses, and finally, analysis of the ‘Big Society’ device. These are largely helpful and informative, but have some problems. This picture of Cameronism misconceptualises the relationship between structure and agency – overagentialising Cameronism – and misrepresents the pace and nature of political change.

This paper will review both the existing literature on Cameronism and some literature on these theoretical topics, before combining the two with empirical research to come to a new conception of Cameronism. It draws on the work of Hay (2006, 2010) and others to provide concepts with which to analyse Cameronism – borrowing from work on critical junctures, evolutionary change, structure and agency dialectics, and taking some ideas from institutional theory. Ultimately, Cameron is reconceptualised as a nodal point in the complex interaction between a set of discursive, historical and geographical institutions, which result in a reactionary form of anti-Keynesian, which defines itself more in terms of what it isn’t than in terms of what it is.

Jon Robinson




Political structures through 3D Glasses – Tiered Pluralist-Elitism

When modelling British political structures, strict applications of either pluralist or elitist frameworks are fraught with problems. By contrast, Rhodes’ Differentiated Polity Model and Marsh’s Asymmetric Power Model provide fuller pictures of the landscape of power within British Politics; however, both suffer from short-comings when dealing with how deep ideational changes alter the political composition of Britain across time, such as the waning power of the old ‘Etonian/Oxbridge’ elite and the ideational penetration of ‘meritocracy’. In light of this, this paper seeks to imagine a new way of conceptualising British Politics: Tiered Pluralist-Elitism.

I argue that this approach wields greater explanatory power as it allows for the modelling of ideational shifts across time, evidence for which I provide in the form of two analyses: (i) an analysis of business and epistemic communities within liberal democratic political structures, drawing on the work of Lindblom (year needed); and (ii) an analysis of the role of social-Darwinist ideas within historic and contemporary discourses surrounding ‘social mobility’. I conclude that Tiered Pluralist-Elitism is able to provide a more complete framework through which to approach the changing British state.

James Bowker




New Directions for Social Critique after the Technocratic Idea of Excellence and its effects on Higher Education

This paper is part of the fruit of a reflexive critical observation of my own experience as a student of Cultural Studies. I was affected by the events that led to its final moments at the University of Birmingham and thereof mobilised to write. I later expanded the scope of my investigation to the contemporary idea of the University in more general terms; a University marked by: curriculums streamlined to match career requirements in the Culture Industry and the Market; increasing focus on employability skills; increasing stress and pressure on students to gather work experience, ultimately regulating individuals’ modes of life by selling them fabricated desires, career prospects, and lifetime aspirations.

In this paper, I specifically investigate alternatives to the idea of excellence as the guiding value of Higher Education. Bill Readings described the contemporary University as an institution which transformed from one devoted to the cultivation of national culture into one obsessed with the “pursuit of excellence”: the design and delivery of a technocratic control which orders the management and administration of the social production of knowledge in the University primarily in favour of the accumulation of capital. I begin by highlighting how the criteria of excellence hinder the development of Critical Theories whose object of study is a society that is increasingly homogenising difference. I then conduct an analysis of technology on campus to portray the transformation of the contemporary University.

Subsequently, I seek a Derridean alternative to an Adornian conceptualisation of technology and its role in the development of a theoretical framework for a “University Without Condition” from the influence of technocratic capitalism. I ultimately gesture towards the importance of advancing a new guiding value of the contemporary University, calling for the theoretical development of an interdisciplinarity modelled around Derrida’s thought, in the attempt to envision a University more open to difference and the production of social critique.

Elio di Muccio