Researcher portrait, 2010-02-04

Globalisation Changes the Foundations of Public Control

– Meet Sofia Näsström

Sofia Näsström, Stockholm University, Department of Political Science, has a Junior Research Position from the Swedish Research Council. She is also co-editor of Ethics & Global Politics, a journal that receives funding from the Swedish Research Council. Here you can read an interview with her.
"I´m a researcher in political theory. My research addresses how democracy is changed by globalisation, migration, and the global political challenges that we face. More specifically, I study the foundations of public control – in particular the question concerning who actually are the people, i.e. those who are able to participate and influence an issue."

"For earlier generations of political philosophers, the nation-state appeared to be so stable and self-evident that, in principle, their theories addressed the people as an axiom. But today the nation-state is no longer the self-evident point of departure — many decisions are made in an international arena. And then the problem arises: who do we consider to be the people as regards a particular issue, and how should they be represented? Since this issue appeared to be unproblematic earlier, it has been under-theorised."

How far have you come?

"Among other things, I´ve analysed historical changes in the content of core concepts such as the people, freedom, and equality. Showing that earlier thinkers considered the people to be an axiom was trickier than I had imagined: instead of citing what they say, I often need to show what they do not say, but implicitly presume."

"Presently, I´m looking at how the meaning of the people and the other concepts are changing in our time as political philosophy becomes more interested in the question: Who is allowed to participate and influence? Finally, I will investigate how these changes can potentially change our understanding of global politics."

"Together with a colleague, I founded the electronic, open access journal Ethics & Global Politics, where I serve as co-editor. We saw the need for a scientific, peer-reviewed journal to address these issues. Publication began in 2008, and the response has been excellent: respected international professors have contacted us and have offered to write articles, and we have downloads from 72 countries!"

Why did you choose this particular research topic?

“In my previous job as an economic at the UN, I worked with trade and environmental issues. One day I met a philosopher who explained that she was there to collect material for her dissertation. Since I have always been interested in philosophy and global issues, her work seemed to be very attractive to me – getting paid for thinking! So I went back to school to get my doctorate in political philosophy."
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Updated: 2010-02-04