chapter  1
Norm antipreneurs in world politics
Pages 19

A norm is said to define ‘a standard of appropriate behaviour for actors with a given identity’ (Finnemore and Sikkink, 1998, 891), meaning that norms provide a ‘logic of appropriateness’ (March and Olsen, 1998, 951-952), and define ‘legitimate social purpose[s]’ thereby constraining and/or enabling actors’ behaviour (Skinner, 1988, 177). Norms influence the choices made by international actors across the whole gamut of issues, from trade and finance to dispute resolution, health and security. This book examines how norms diffuse through the international system; or, more precisely, it examines resistance to norm diffusion efforts. Theorising about how new norms emerge and diffuse, changing the behaviour of international actors as they do so, was the primary purpose of the seminal 1998 study of norm dynamics by Martha Finnemore and Kathryn Sikkink (1998, 887). According to Finnemore and Sikkink (1998, 896-899; Nadelmann 1990, 479-526), norm dynamic processes are driven by ‘norm entrepreneurs’, that is, by actors who ‘set out to alter the prevailing normative order according to certain ideas or norms that they deem more suitable’ (Wunderlich, 2013, 37). Yet the editors initiated the current project after deciding that an excessive focus on norm entrepreneurs had resulted in the norm dynamics literature over-privileging the phenomenon of norm-change as opposed to stability. This book therefore focuses on the actors who resist, as opposed to promote, normative change in world politics. To be fair, some of the most seminal norm dynamics studies did not ignore entirely the phenomenon of resistance to normative change (Risse and Sikkink, 1999, 22-24; Keck and Sikkink, 1998, 8; Finnemore and Sikkink, 1998, 914). Nevertheless, because the emphasis on norm promotion has meant that resistance has until now been considered mainly in the context of its own failure, the phenomenon of resistance remains far less fully theorised than that of successful norm promotion. This book therefore begins the process of rebalancing the norm dynamics literature by exploring the question as to whether the actors who resist normative change, those whom we suggest might usefully be referred to as ‘norm antipreneurs’, should be recognised as a distinct category of actor, on the basis that their role in norm dynamics is distinct from that fulfilled by norm entrepreneurs.