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This book examines the interface between transnational private governance and domestic politics in South America. It explores the social and political factors that condition how ‘global’ private norms, discourses, and initiatives dealing with sustainability and CSR regulation are engaged with, hybridized, and challenged by local actors in Argentina and Brazil. Inverting the conventional approach to global governance studies, it unpacks the complex forms in which domestic political-cultural elements embed global norms and discourses with meaning and mobilizing power, conditioning their appeal to potential participants and supporters. In doing so, the author illuminates the ‘receiving side’ of private regulation and governance, developing a nuanced understanding of transnational norm diffusion wherein political and ideational factors in the global South are granted primacy over global structures, processes, and agents.

Inhaltsverzeichnis

Frontmatter

Chapter 1. Introduction: Where Does Private Governance Go?

Abstract
The chapter outlines the book’s overall argument, pointing to the limitations of ‘globalist’ perspectives in the governance literature whereby macro processes and explanations take precedent over developments at the domestic level, particularly when these refer to the global South. Against this, I argue that the diffusion of transnational regulation can be conceived as a process of collective mobilization, aiming to motivate actors in different locations to adopt new norms and behaviors. Hence, I rely on a detailed examination of the contrasting situation of sustainability governance in Argentina and Brazil to demonstrate the conditioning effect of national political cultural institutions, discourses, and legacies over the type of engagement and interest local actors display in relation to transnational regulatory initiatives.
Alejandro M. Peña

Chapter 2. Framing Transnational Governance

Abstract
In this chapter, I situate transnational governance and diffusion processes against mainstream explanations. I challenge what I consider a pervasive Western perspectivism in conventional theoretical models and point to the limitations of technical and transcendental explanations for unravelling domestic trajectories of private regulation and accounting for context-specific developments and outcomes. Subsequently, drawing from social movement ideas, I propose an interpretative framework where the transnational diffusion of private governance is conceived as a contingent process of framing, sense-making, and (eventual) collective mobilization, significantly affected by the degree of semantic alignment between ‘global’ regulatory norms and frames with relevant dimensions of national political culture, including historical institutional and non-institutional legacies, models of state-society relations, and political discourses.
Alejandro M. Peña

Chapter 3. Global Trajectories in Sustainability Governance

Abstract
The chapter explores the evolution of sustainability governance from a global perspective. By tracing the modern origins of international and private programs of social, environmental, and corporate regulation, I identify the context of emergence of distinct strands of the ‘governance of the social’ through the twentieth century. These ‘cleavages’ represent different rationales, discourses, and institutional mechanisms of transnational regulation, which in time combined to constitute broader agendas. Thus, in the chapter I trace the evolution of social and environmental regulatory initiatives from the early twentieth century to the late 1990s, when the sustainability agenda consolidated, and introduce three transnational initiatives, the UN Global Compact, the Global Reporting Initiative, and the ISO 26000 Working Group, as institutional representatives of the contemporary phase of transnational governance.
Alejandro M Peña

Chapter 4. Mapping Participation in Argentina and Brazil

Abstract
The chapter develops the initial examination of the engagement of Argentine and Brazilian actors with contemporary sustainability governance. By mapping participation in three case study initiatives, the UN Global Compact, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), and the ISO 26000 Working Group, and performing a wider network analysis, I reveal that the countries display markedly different participation profiles. In Brazil, this is characterized by a dense and centralized network comprising a variety of important firms and civil society actors, an identifiable cluster of core players, and diverse links with the international sustainability community. In Argentina, the pattern is more fragmented and dispersed, featuring actors with scarce institutional links with both the global initiatives and with each other, as well as proxy organizations of limited influence.
Alejandro M Peña

Chapter 5. Sustainability, Ethical Business, and Party Politics in Brazil

Abstract
The chapter argues that the dense and centralized participation pattern found in Brazil reflects, first, the overlapping of private governance frames with relevant dimensions of the local political agenda since the late 1990s, and second, the close ideational and institutional links developed between a particular faction of businesspersons, civil society, and the political system, particularly around the Workers’ Party PT. As a result, global sustainability norms and initiatives have not been restricted by domestic cultural political cleavages: on the contrary, they benefited from being perceived as an extension of domestic campaigns, struggles, and political discourses. Due to this, the sustainability agenda in Brazil has assumed a more public and assertive political orientation, often surpassing regulatory ambitions and mechanisms found at the global level.
Alejandro M.Peña

Chapter 6. Politics, Ideology, and Indifference in Argentina

Abstract
The situation of sustainability governance in Argentina outlines a scenario of limited engagement by relevant actors and of low visibility in public opinion and civil society. In this chapter, I argue that this ‘indifferent’ pattern of engagement can be explained by three main features of national, political culture interfering with major semantic premises of the sustainability agenda: (i) a historical sidelining of ecological concerns in public opinion and political struggles, (ii) a resilient anti-corporate stance pervading the position of influential political players and sectors of civil society, rejecting the involvement of business in public affairs, and (iii) the exclusive and polarizing effect of the ideology and rhetoric advanced by the Kirchnerist governments since the early 2000s, deterring private-led governance rationales.
Alejandro M. Peña

Chapter 7. Final Thoughts

Abstract
The concluding chapter reflects over the main contributions of the book, in relation to the diverse pathways assumed by transnational sustainability governance, the advantages (and limitations) of the proposed theoretical approach, and empirical findings concerning private regulation in Argentina and Brazil. I claim that the book makes a valuable addition to the scholarly literature, extending conventional approaches to transnational norm diffusion and regime uptake, and illuminating the operation of these processes from the perspective of the global South. Combining different analytical techniques, the book sheds light upon the diverging participation patterns found in two large South American economies, and upon the institutionalized and ideational dimensions conditioning the ‘politics of resonance’ of transnational governance at the domestic and regional level.
Alejandro M. Peña

Backmatter

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