The Power of Networks

The Power of Networks

Organizing the Global Politics of the Internet

Mikkel Flyverbom

With an ever-growing number of users, the Internet is central to the processes of globalization, cultural formations, social encounters and economic development. These aside, it is also fast becoming an important political domain. Struggles over disclosure, access and regulation are only the most visible signs that the Internet is quickly becoming a site of fierce political conflict involving states, technical groups, business and civil society. As the debate over the global politics of the Internet intensifies, this book will be a valuable guide for anyone seeking to understand the emergence, organization and shape of this new issue.

Chapter 3: Engaging Social Worlds as Stakeholders

Mikkel Flyverbom

Subjects: business and management, organisational innovation, organisation studies, innovation and technology, organisational innovation, technology and ict, politics and public policy, international politics


The classification of relevant social worlds as stakeholders is central to hybrid forums (Hallström and Boström 2010), and categories such as ‘government’, ‘business’ and ‘civil society’ are constantly at work in the organization of the global politics of the Internet. Such categories are so well established that we tend to forget that they are the results of acts of classification (Bowker and Star 1999), and not given. The focus on associations, translations and enrolment helps us capture how such diverse ‘social worlds’ (Clarke and Star 2008) are enacted (Bowker and Star 1999; Czarniawska and Hernes 2005) in the process of being categorized as stakeholders. That is, stakeholders do not exist in advance, but emerge through categorizations (Hallström and Boström 2010) that posit dispersed social worlds as allies in a given project. Conventional approaches to governance tend to take actors and their positions for granted (Bevir 2003) and reproduce such categories as states, business and civil society without reflecting on how these enact particular positions and relations (Law and Urry 2004). The focus on ordering helps us unsettle and question the view of actors as fixed and natural entities that simply carry out activities, shape politics, or set up organizations. In other words, it helps us to capture how categories such as ‘stakeholders’ are the results of assemblages and translations. To unpack the ways in which stakeholders are codified in hybrid forums, this chapter foregrounds a number of techniques used to engage and categorize social worlds. Because...

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