Making normative meaning accountable in international politics
If cultural practices shape experience and expectations, they need to be identified and made accountable based on empirical research. Drawing on international relations (IR) theory, international law and normative democratic theory this article develops a framework approach to studying the contested meaning of norms in international politics under conditions of constitutionalisation beyond the nation-state. The goal is to formulate observations and identify a design for empirical research, which is suitable to examining the “invisible constitution” of politics, that is, the individually held associative connotations which inform contested interpretation of normative meaning. To do so, the article is organised in two parts. Part I derives research assumptions and hypotheses from the literature. It turns to the distinction of types of norms and conditions of norm contestation in section 1, identifies research assumptions and hypotheses in section 2, argues to bring culture back into constitutionalism in section 3, and summarises the guiding question of convergence, divergence, or diffusion of normative meanings in section 4. Part II then focuses on research operationalisation. Section 5 elaborates on the rationale of the research framework and type of enquiry. Section 6 highlights the method of interview evaluation. Section 7 identifies the research indicators including type of social group to be interviewed, fundamental norms that are likely to be contested, domestic political arenas in which the social groups operate, and issue areas linked with core constitutional norms. Section 8 summarises the case study’s design and procedure.
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