A Study of South Africa’s Pursuit of Legitimacy in a Shifting Global Order
Primary Investigator: Dr Peg Murray-Evans (Politics, University of York)
External Collaborators: South African Institute of International Affairs
Funder: Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship
South Africa is the newest member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) organisation, a self-professed rising power and an influential player across a range of international political issues. The project investigates how South Africa generates global influence that appears to outstrip its economic clout as well as the ways in which this influence is constrained and contested.
Through the case of South Africa, the project explores the way in which power in the international system is shaped by not just material wealth but claims to legitimacy, the institutional structures in and through which these claims are made, and the way in which they are interpreted and challenged by other players. In so doing, it aims to generate a better understanding of the changing contours of the contemporary international order and their impact on the global distribution of resources and human wellbeing.
In particular, the research focuses in on South Africa’s place within a contemporary global order characterised by the institutional fragmentation of global governance regimes and an increasing gap between the functioning of multilateral institutions and the interests and demands of emerging powers. Its initial findings suggest that in such a context outcomes depend in part on norms embedded within global governance regimes and the ways in which these are mobilised by state actors in order to assert the legitimacy of their preferences and actions.
The project is led by IGDC-member Peg Murray-Evans and is funded with a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship. It involves collaboration with the South African Institute of International Affairs as well as extensive fieldwork in South Africa and at the headquarters of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organisation, the UNFCCC Secretariat.