Headline: Representation as practice: agency and relationality in transnational civil society

This paper argues that political representation in transnational civil society networks needs to be investigated as practice with regard to its flexibility, relationality and dialogical agency. Analysis of transnational representation from a practice-theoretical perspective can facilitate a better understanding of the actual representation practices of civil society actors in a transnational setting. The question raised is this: How do representation practices ensue, change or shift within the broader structures in which they are embedded? By focussing on flexibility, relationality and dialogical agency as the key theoretical concepts for representation practice, this study delves deeper into those aspects through empirical analysis of qualitative interviews with activists from two major transnational civil society networks: the Clean Clothes Campaign and Friends of the Earth. The study finds that transnational representation in civil society networks evolves in a non-linear fashion, is characterized by shifting agency, discursive claims and a disembodiment of representation. The paper concludes with a discussion of how future research can pursue such critical engagement without falling back into standard, static notions of political representation.

Publication Year
Publication Type
Academic Articles

Knappe, H. (2021). Representation as practice: agency and relationality in transnational civil society. Journal of international relations and development: JIRD, 24(2), 430-454. doi:10.1057/s41268-020-00197-6.

Projects involved
Politicizing the Future