The anatomy of transparency : the concept and its multifarious implications
Title: The anatomy of transparency : the concept and its multifarious implications
Author: KOIVISTO, Ida
Series/Number: EUI MWP; 2016/09
There appears to be an uninterrupted rise in the quest for transparency in global governance. Its desirability relies on the promise of making power visible and as such, controllable. However, this "rise and rise of transparency" has occurred thus far without sufficient conceptual analysis or critique. The metaphorical authority of transparency seems to be self-justificatory. In this Working Paper, this point of departure is questioned. This is done by analyzing the partly contradictory connotations of transparency and their social implications. It is argued a) that transparency derives its metaphorical authority from our rudimentary sensory experiences of being able to see; the scope of this vision can be, however, manipulated in many ways; b) transparency's negative connotations are undertheorized when referring to social and societal life; at the heart of positively perceived transparency there is performativity structured by theater imagery; c) negatively connoting transparency is associated with the failure of successful self-representation; depending on the context, this may cause strategic failure and/or shame and embarrassment. The analysis presented in this Working Paper is designed to be the start for a more comprehensive account for transparency as a socio-legal ideal.
Subject: Transparency; Global governance; Conceptual analysis; Conceptual metaphor theory; Performativity
Type of Access: openAccess