Analyses of authority in the global realm have risen to greater prominence in recent years but many of them employ a model of ‘solid’ authority borrowed from the domestic context that focuses primarily on commands issued by single institutions. This chapter argues that such approaches tend to underestimate the presence of authority in global governance and to misunderstand its nature, leading to skewed accounts of the emergence of authority and the challenges it poses. The chapter develops a broader conception of authority which also includes ‘liquid’ forms – forms characterized by informality, substantive groundings, multiplicity, and significant dynamism. It outlines how such a broader account can help us to reframe the problématique of postnational governance, especially by leading us away from statist frames when confronted with the particular difficulties of authority structures which often have pervasive effects but are hard to locate and grasp.
Pluralist approaches understand global law as consisting of a variety of legal orders that are not integrated by a common, overarching frame. This chapter explores the rise of pluralism as a frame for law in the European and, later, global contexts, and analyses different forms of pluralism for the ways in which they represent relations between the different parts of the overall order. It shows how pluralist approaches have increasingly expanded their concept of law, resulting in the inclusion of normativities of informal and private origins into their domain. It also discusses common fears associated with pluralist visions of legal order, primarily those related to coherence and stability, and suggests that in contexts of strong diversity and contestation, a pluralist legal order may hold advantages over more unitary structures. It finally explores potential legacies of pluralist approaches for rethinking the ways in which we identify and construe law beyond formal international law.