PATHWAYS TO TRANSNATIONALITY: NETWORKS, COLLECTIVE ACTION, AND TRADE DEBATES IN THE AMERICAS
von Bulow, Marisa
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This dissertation examines the various pathways to transnationality taken by civil society organizations challenging the negotiations of free trade agreements in the Americas. It proposes a relational approach that focuses on the political process of construction of ties among different types of organizations situated in different countries. It offers a distinctive contribution to the literature on transnational collective action by showing the relevance of Southern organizations and South-South ties in the field of trade challengers; by considering the continuous unfolding of transnational collective action since the beginning of the 1990s; by taking into consideration the links between domestic and transnational collective action; and by promoting a closer dialogue between social network analysts and scholars interested in studying collective action. The analysis is based on a combination of social network analysis and qualitative methods. A social network questionnaire was administered to 123 civil society organizations in Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and the United States, and a total of 204 individuals were interviewed in these countries and in Canada. The main argument of this dissertation contends that the pathways to transnationality taken by civil society organizations are best understood as the outcome of a dynamic process of interaction with other actors. In turn, this interaction is affected by the absence of clear consensus as to how transnational coalitions should be organized, which claims must be prioritized, and who the targets of complaints and proposals should be. Instead of thinking in terms of the emergence of new transnational subjects, this dissertation argues that it is both more accurate and fruitful to think in terms of the variety of ways in which actors can arrive at similar positions by taking different routes, and in terms of the mechanisms by which actors try to achieve common ground. Three types of mechanisms of change in a relational context are singled out: the extension of agendas and scope of coalition building; the suppression of issues when there is no consensus possible; and the transformation of goals and strategies. Typologies of coalition building modes and brokerage roles complement the analytical framework used in this dissertation.