The Politics of Expertise

Competing for Authority in Global Governance
Ole Jacob Sending
A groundbreaking analysis that sheds new light on global governance


Experts dominate all facets of global governance, from accounting practices and antitrust regulations to human rights law and environmental conservation. In this study, Ole Jacob Sending encourages a critical interrogation of the role and power of experts by unveiling the politics of the ongoing competition for authority in global governance.

Drawing on insights from sociology, political science, and institutional theory, Sending challenges theories centered on particular actors’ authority, whether it is the authority of so-called epistemic communities, the moral authority of advocacy groups, or the rational-legal authority of international organizations. Using in-depth and historically oriented case studies of population and peacebuilding, he demonstrates that authority is not given nor located in any set of particular actors. Rather, continuous competition for recognition as an authority to determine what is to be governed, by whom, and for what purpose shapes global governance in fundamental ways.

Advancing a field-based approach, Sending highlights the political stakes disguised by the technical language of professionals and thus opens a broader public debate over the key issues of our time.

“Erudite, informative, insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking . . . a critically important contribution to college and university library Contemporary Political Science reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.”.”
Midwest Book Review
“Ole Jacob Sending’s Bourdieu-inspired analysis brings new theoretical resources and historical depth to understanding global governance. Incisive and revealing, this is a cutting-edge contribution.”
—Michael Williams, University of Ottawa

“Sending’s reputation as one of the most astute and creative observers of global governance is solidified with this cogent, timely, and field-bending book.”
—Michael Barnett, George Washington University

Ole Jacob Sending is Director of Research at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (NUPI).

Praise / Awards

  • "Erudite, informative, insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "The Politics of Expertise: Competing for Authority in Global Governance" is a critically important contribution to college and university library Contemporary Political Science reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists."
    --Midwest Book Review

  • "Offers a dynamic and sociologically informed method to examine how ideas and actors become authoritative."
    --Political and Legal Anthropology Blog

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Product Details

  • 174 pages.
  • 1 table.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2015
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-12125-0

  • PDF: Adobe Digital Editions e-book (DRM Protected)

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  • International Politics, Global governance, Experts, Authority, Epistemic communities, International organizations, Population, Peacebuilding