‘Recognition’, or its negative counterpart, ‘misrecognition’, is relevant wherever people or their collective organizations interact—or fail to interact. Individuals and collective political actors seek recognition of certain qualities, positive characteristics, competencies, achievements, or of their status within a specific group of people, a society, a political system, or the international political realm. The addressees of this recognition-seeking behaviour vary broadly, depending on the respective situation and depending on what exactly one actor would like to see recognized by another. A child might seek recognition from her parents or from fellow children of her first colour painting; a scholar might seek recognition of her opus magnum from fellow scholars or the public. A non-governmental organization might seek recognition of its humanitarian work from governments, the UN, potential donors, or from the needy people it supports. The violent group ‘Islamic State’ might seek recognition of its self-proclaimed ‘caliphate’ from Muslim believers, Muslim leaders, or regional organizations. Even a superficial scan of the daily news shows the ubiquity of issues related to ‘recognition’ in politics and society. Yet, what a certain actor seeks recognition of and from whom, how exactly recognition comes about (or fails to come about), and how it can be ‘measured’ is not as self-evident.
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- Gradual Processes, Ambiguous Consequences: Rethinking Recognition in International Relations
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