Antje Wiener

senior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2014/2015
discipline Political Science
Professor of Political Science, University of Hamburg

Research project

Whose Norms Count: The Legitimacy Gap in Global Governance and How to Fill It


Taking a cue from the parallel increase of global constitutionalisation and norm contestation in a global environment, this EURIAS project at NIAS contributes to the larger endeavour of developing a principled pluralist approach to global governance. To that end, and building on the PI’s ‘theory of contestation', it approaches the generation of normativity through norm contestation on three levels of global governance: macro level norms (type 1), meso level norms (type 2) and micro level norms (type 3). Type 1 norms include fundamental norms that are constitutive for contingent patterns of global governance such as sovereignty, human rights and the rule of law; they have been widely addressed by social constructivists and international lawyers. Type 3 norms include specific standards and regulations such as fishing quotas, electoral rules or emission quotas; they have been studied extensively by policy research in global and European governance. By contrast, type 2 norms such as the responsibility to protect, corporate social responsibility or common but differentiated responsibility have remained under-researched. 

Yet, as this project argues, type 2 norms are likely to fill the 'legitimacy gap’ at the meso level of global governance. The EURIAS research project holds, therefore, that identifying both (1) affected stakeholders’ actual involvement in norm contestations, and (2) conditions for stakeholders’ access to regular contestation at the meso-level, would enhance the possibility to develop norm ownership as a key condition of legitimate global governance. The argument is developed from the background of James Tully’s Public Philosophy in a New Key. To explore the role of norm ownership and potential sites for stakeholder engagement (including both ‘cititzens’ and ‘learned scholarship’), the project maps moments of contestation at the macro- and micro-levels, respectively. The contestatory practices are taken as an indicator for the absence of shared - institutional, constitutional, or organisational - ground rules (type 2 norms) of global governance. While they invariably reflect changing normativity, contestatory practices are as yet to be taken on board of global governance theories. The project aims to accomplish that.




Antje Wiener holds a Ph.D (PolSci) from Carleton University and an MA (PolSci) from the Free University of Berlin. She currently holds the Chair of Political Science, esp. Global Governance at the University of Hamburg where she also leads Research Area 4 on ‘Global Governance, Constitutionalism and World Society’ at the Centre for Globalisation and Governance (CGG). Previous teaching institutions include the Universities of Bath, Queen’s Belfast, Trento, Hanover, Sussex, Stanford and Berlin. She has held international fellowships in Canada, Italy, Germany, the UK and the USA, and was made a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in the UK in 2011. She is founding co-editor of Global Constitutionalism (with M. Kumm, A. Lang, J. Dunoff & J. Tully). 


Her research and teaching expertise are in international relations (IR) theories, global governance and global constitutionalism. Specifically, she is interested in the role of ‘contestation as a norm generative practice’ that is practiced under the condition of inter-nationality in global governance. Building on the Theory of Contestation, the analytical framework approach engages James Tully’s Public Philosophy in a New Key (PPNK).  





Selected publications


‘In the Eye of the Beholder: A Sociology of Knowledge Perspective on Norm Transfer’, Journal of European Integration, vol. 37, no. 2, 2015, pp. 211–228.


‘Hard times: Progress narratives, historical contingency and the fate of global constitutionalism’, with J. Dunoff et al., Global Constitutionalism, vol. 4, no. 1, 2015, pp. 1-17.


A Theory of Contestation, Springer, Berlin, 2014.


‘Contestation in Connected Discursive Spaces’, Zeitschrift für Internationale Beziehungen, vol. 21, no. 2, 2014, pp. 147-154. [in German] 


'Tackling Invisible Frontiers of Global Justice: An Extension of Sen's 'Comparison View of Justice' into IR', Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, vol. 16, no. 2, 2013, pp. 249-265.


'Why a New Journal on Global Constitutionalism?', with J.A. Lang et al., Global Constitutitonalism - Human Rights, Democracy, and the Rule of Law, vol. 1, no. 1, 2012, pp. 1-15.


'Enacting Meaning-in-Use. Qualitative Research on Norms and International Relations', Review of International Studies, vol. 35, no. 1, 2009, pp. 175-193. 


The Invisible Constitution of Politics. Contested Norms and International Encounters, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2008.


'The Dual Quality of Norms and Governance beyond the State: Sociological and Normative Approaches to Interaction', Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy, vol. 10, no. 1, 2007, pp. 47-69.


'Contested compliance: Interventions on the normative structure of world politics', European Journal of International Relations, vol. 10, no. 2, 2004, pp. 189-234.



senior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2012/2013
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline History
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2011/2012
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Linguistics
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2016/2017
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline Literature
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2015/2016
Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS-KNAW)
discipline History