Research Goals of the SFB 700
In the second funding period the SFB 700 focuses on six research goals, each of which serves as the focus of several individual projects:
1. Modes of coordination and power relations
The first research goal raises the questions of how areas of limited statehood are governed, how governance standards are achieved in these areas and how governance is sustained under these conditions. Special attention is paid to non-hierarchical modes of social coordination that are based on incentives, arguments or symbols instead of authority and coercion. A further research question is how asymmetrical power relations affect these supposedly “soft,” non-hierarchical modes of coordination. We will explore this power dimension of governance from an analytical, as well as from a normative perspective.
2.Statehood as a context condition of governance
We define “statehood” as the ability of the state to effectively enforce the law on its territory and to sustainably exercise a monopoly on the use of force. In this context, the second research goal asks how strong or weak this ability must be in order to enable non-state governance. This research question is based on the assumption that states need to generate and sustain a “shadow of hierarchy” to provide an incentive for non-state actors to contribute to the provision of public goods and services. We will also evaluate whether this is an empirically sound assumption and whether there are alternative mechanisms that can compensate for a deficient shadow of hierarchy in areas of limited statehood.
3. Effectiveness and legitimacy of governance
This research goal focuses on the assessment and evaluation of governance. On the one hand, we will empirically investigate the contribution of governance arrangements to sustainable problem-solving and the provision of goods and services. On the other hand, we seek to address the related question about governance legitimacy. This refers to the actual recognition of governance legitimacy by the targeted population (empirical legitimacy), as well as to the assessment of the normative status of governance based on moral considerations (normative legitimacy). We further seek to identify which characteristics (if any) of non-state governance distinguish it from conventional governance by the state in a morally relevant sense.
4. Processes of adaption and resistance
This research goal raises questions about the possibility, potential, challenges and problems of governance transfers. Special attention is paid to the “context of reception” and the ways in which local actors and “receiving” populations respond to these transfers. This focus is crucial, since local actors, socio-cultural particularities, local governance discourses and path dependencies shape the governance process and affect external governance transfers. Legal pluralism, the collision of norms and the need for meta-norms become apparent as well as differences in and struggles over interpretation, which require translation, accommodation and negotiation processes. We will address the danger of an implicit eurocentrism in this context through cooperation with research partners and institutions in the areas under investigation. Doing research “with” rather than research “on” is the logical (and long overdue) implication of reinforcing our interest in the local level and the (supposed) beneficiaries of the governance process.
5. From private goods to governance
In areas of limited statehood, we often encounter processes in which private goods become collective goods for an expanding and more inclusive group – and vice versa. When private goods are transformed into goods for an inclusive collectivity (or the reverse process, when goods are privatized), the actors and their motivation to provide these goods and services change as well: private actors take on public tasks, actions oriented towards private gain transform into group-based motivation, and may ultimately result in an orientation towards the common good while the range of governance beneficiaries becomes increasingly inclusive in this process. We assume that processes of institutionalization are highly relevant in order to stabilize these transformation processes towards the common good and to maintain sustainable governance. The purpose of our research in this context is to identify the mechanisms and sources of these processes (and the respective counter-tendencies).
6. Governance and material resources
Governance requires material resources. In areas of limited statehood, the state’s material resources depend not only on tax or rent-based national revenue, but various actors also have access to alternative financial and material sources, i.e. development aid, resources provided by external non-state actors (multi-national corporations or NGOs), or even a diverse range of material resources based on “protection money,” military assistance or other forms of external support. All of these material resources can be deployed for governance purposes, but they can also be used to hinder the provision of public goods and services. Therefore, this research goal focuses on a set of questions concerning material resources: Who generates and accesses which material resources? How are these resources (re-)distributed, and what are the consequences for governance in areas of limited statehood? A particularly important question in this context is how and whether these resources are used to consolidate the state. Do we find evidence instead that these resources are channeled into economic activity that circumvents or even undermines the state?