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Tony Ward and Penny Green

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Legitimacy, Civil Society, and State Crime

Tony Ward and Penny Green seek to provide a theoretical framework for understanding the dynamics of state crime — such as genocide, torture, and war crimes — and how the seemingly universal discourse of human rights is often used to mask particular economic agendas. These authors extend Gramsci’s analysis of the concept of hegemony to international relations and argue that the “U.S. and its allies exercise hegemony in a Gramscian sense: their dominance appears to serve universal interests, rather than the interests of transnational capital, because it is portrayed as upholding human rights and democracy.” Ward and Green note that “the pressures that powerful states and international institutions place on weaker states to institutionalize human rights form part of a wider agenda. For example, at the core of the conditions that Turkey is required to meet to qualify for membership of the European Union are trade, military, and economic issues; but these are made palatable by a human rights discourse that Turkey must acknowledge and to a certain extent incorporate to win acceptance.”

theory, state [the]; political theory — legitimacy; civil society; sociology — political clientelism; human rights

Citation: Social Justice Vol. 27, No. 4 (2000): 76-93