The Concept of Transparency in International Relations: towards a critical approach

McCarthy, D. R. and Fluck, M. 2017. The Concept of Transparency in International Relations: towards a critical approach. European Journal of International Relations. 23 (2), pp. 416-440. doi:10.1177/1354066116651688

TitleThe Concept of Transparency in International Relations: towards a critical approach
AuthorsMcCarthy, D. R. and Fluck, M.
Abstract

Transparency is an important concept in International Relations. The possibility of realizing transparency in practice operates as a central analytical axis defining distinct positions on core theoretical problems within the field, from the security dilemma to the function of international institutions and beyond. As a political practice the pursuit of transparent governance is a dominant feature of global politics, promoted by a wide range of actors across a vast range of issue areas, from nuclear proliferation to Internet governance to the politics of foreign aid. Yet, despite its importance, precisely what transparency means or how the concept is understood is frequently ill-defined by academics and policy-makers alike. As a result, the epistemological and ontological underpinnings of approaches to transparency in IR often sit in tension with their wider theoretical commitments. This article will examine the three primary understandings of transparency used in IR in order to unpack these commitments. It finds that while transparency is often explicitly conceptualized as a property of information, particularly within rationalist scholarship, this understanding rests upon an unarticulated set of sociological assumptions. This analysis suggests that conceptualizing ‘transparency-as-information’ without a wider sociology of knowledge production is highly problematic, potentially obscuring our ability to recognize transparent practices in global governance. Understanding transparency as dialogue, as a social practice rooted in shared cognitive capacities and epistemic frameworks, provides a firmer analytical ground from which to examine transparency in International Relations.

Keywordstransparency, International Relations, global governance, rational choice, critical theory
JournalEuropean Journal of International Relations
Journal citation23 (2), pp. 416-440
ISSN1354-0661
Year2017
PublisherSage
Accepted author manuscriptAuthor Accepted - Concept of Transparency EJIR.pdf
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1177/1354066116651688
Publication dates
Published16 Jun 2016
Published in print2017

Related outputs

Information is Power? Transparency and fetishism in International Relations
Fluck, M. and McCarthy, D.R. 2019. Information is Power? Transparency and fetishism in International Relations. Globalizations. 16 (1), pp. 1-16. doi:10.1080/14747731.2018.1507698

The concept of truth in International Relations theory: critical thought beyond post-positivism
Fluck, M. 2017. The concept of truth in International Relations theory: critical thought beyond post-positivism. London Palgrave Macmillan.

Theory, 'truthers', and transparency: Reflecting on knowledge in the twenty-first century
Fluck, M. 2016. Theory, 'truthers', and transparency: Reflecting on knowledge in the twenty-first century. Review of International Studies. 42 (1), pp. 48-73. doi:10.1017/S0260210515000091

The Promise of Global Transparency
Fluck, M. 2015. The Promise of Global Transparency. in: Azmanova, A. and Mihai, M. (ed.) Reclaiming Democracy: Judgment, Responsibility, and the Right to Politics London Routledge. pp. 144-162

The best there is? Communication, objectivity, and the future of critical international relations theory
Fluck, M. 2014. The best there is? Communication, objectivity, and the future of critical international relations theory. European Journal of International Relations. 20 (1), pp. 56-79. doi:10.1177/1354066112437772

Truth, values and the value of truth in critical international relations theory
Fluck, M. 2010. Truth, values and the value of truth in critical international relations theory. Millennium: Journal of International Studies. 39 (2), pp. 259-278. doi:10.1177/0305829810385963

Permalink - https://westminsterresearch.westminster.ac.uk/item/9wzx8/the-concept-of-transparency-in-international-relations-towards-a-critical-approach


Share this
Tweet
Email