Faces of Authority

The brief remarks on authority in the review section should already have made clear that conceptualizing authority and developing a classification of different forms of authority is a challenging task. It is hardly conceivable that we would be able to settle the related debates and to develop and justify a conception and classification of authority that satisfactorily merges and reconciles all the various perspectives. Thus, our goal is more modest. We propose a conception and classification of authority which reduces the plurality of labels and forms of authority currently out in the literature, introduces categories along which types of authority can be clearly and easily distinguished, and apply it to the analysis of IPAs (and, for clarity, to intergovernmental bodies of IOs). We do so by drawing above all on existing conceptions of authority in IR scholarship in general and in the study of IOs and IPAs in particular, namely, Lake (2013, 2010, 2007), Hurd (2008, 1999), Zurn et al. (2012), Zurn (2015), Barnett and Finnemore (2004), Avant et al. (2010), and Ecker-Ehrhardt (2007, 2012, 2009). We compare and relate these conceptions to those that have been proposed in sociology, political philosophy, and the broader political science literature, including comprehensive conceptual treatises (above all Day 1963; Weber 1980 [1921]; Arendt 1961; Raz 1990).

In what follows, we identify first of all some basic and common features of definitions of authority, namely, the understanding that it is a form of power and constitutes a social relationship. Subsequently, we introduce a classification, which includes two basic and distinguishable types of authority which are most often discussed with regard to IOs.

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