Expertise and Performative Legitimation in Consumer-led Governance Initiatives: - A Case Study of GoodWeave India

University essay from Lunds universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: The following thesis is an attempt to critically analyse the legitimation claims of Private Transnational Governance (PTGs) initiatives targeting child labour in the Indian carpet belt. Drawing upon the concept of performativity, the research will seek to problematize the tendency to perceive legitimacy in the myopic sense of quantifiable ‘inputs’ and ‘outputs’. To address this issue, the study will use the lens of critical theory to operationalize an understanding of legitimacy as an inter-subjective quality, continuously shaped by processes of citationality, reiteration and discursive norms. The empirical findings of the study will be gathered by conducting deductive qualitative content analysis (QCA) of the legitimation claims circulated in the public material of an exemplary case study - GoodWeave India. As one of the foremost private governance initiatives operating in the field of child labour in India, the practices of GoodWeave India will offer significant insight into the prevailing trends of the wider field. One of the major themes that emerged from the QCA, was the recurring citation of ‘common sense’ norms that implicitly associate Neoliberal modes of governance as indicative of organizational effectiveness or expertise, and the noticeable absence of any reliable or objective indicators of performance. The findings of the study point to a series of worrying implications in the broader field. Primarily relating to a structural lack of democratic legitimacy for PTG initiatives, and more contextually, the continued normalization of Neoliberal forms of governance that have historically exacerbated patterns of child labour exploitation in India in recent decades.

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