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Power dynamics in global communication governance : internet regulation and the case of ICANN (1998-2002)

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Power dynamics in global communication governance : internet regulation and the case of ICANN (1998-2002)

Antonova, Slavka (2005) Power dynamics in global communication governance : internet regulation and the case of ICANN (1998-2002). PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) was created by the U.S. government in October 1998 as an institutional innovation---a private non-profit corporation to govern global resources without government involvement, in the public interest. Through the creation of ICANN, the neoliberal governmentality of market self-regulation and "stakeholder collaboration by consensus" was introduced to the field of global communication. This is considered in the present thesis as a particularly important step towards the establishment of a new governance paradigm for the digital age. ICANN is approached in the thesis as a network of interdependencies and a power-production network, while power is constituted as the focal variable of this investigation. In the first four years of ICANN's activity, the most significant policies on regulating a common pool resource---the Internet domain-name space---were put in place and the winners and losers of these policies emerged from the constant power struggle. As a particular contribution to the conceptualization of the contemporary paradigmatic change in governance, this approach brings together theoretical constructs from Political Philosophy (Foucault's postmodern ontology of power), Political Science and International Relations (the globalization perspective), and Organization Studies (the organizational approach to power in multi-stakeholder formations). By recreating the chronological process of ICANN's first four years and focusing on its power dynamics, it was concluded that the power holders within ICANN (the technical cadre as managers) compromised the very idea of self-governance as they allowed the process to divert from the innovative stakeholder-consensus-building formula and slip back to traditional top-down policymaking. The world's governments and international organizations were, virtually, invited to take over the policy-legitimizing role that an at-large membership and the consensus-reaching process had been intended to play. This thesis takes on further significance---in light of the unfolding global debate on Internet governance that has emerged in the wake of the United Nations World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). The thesis thus contributes to the conceptualization of 21 st century governmentality as "shared power" among diverse stakeholders in global public-policy (GPP) networks by proposing an original interpretation of these entities as networks of interdependencies, where transformative social energy is generated and accumulated. This, itself, constitutes a contribution to our understanding of social power and to the emerging field of global governance.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Communication Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Antonova, Slavka
Pagination:xiv, 459 leaves : ill. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Communication Studies
Date:2005
Thesis Supervisor(s):Roth, Lorna
ID Code:8823
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:18 Aug 2011 14:36
Last Modified:18 Aug 2011 14:36
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