Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2463

Editorial | Open Access

Publics in Global Politics: A Framing Paper

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Abstract:  In IR and beyond, there is considerable debate about the ways global governance, the transnationalisation of publics, and changes in communication technologies have affected the interplay between publics and global politics. This debate is characterised by disagreements about how to conceptualise publics in the global realm—and whether or not they exist in the first place. We seek to contribute to this debate by disentangling the various meanings associated with publics in order to get a better grasp of how publics shape and are shaped by global politics. We do so in two steps. First, we distinguish four different manifestations of publics: audiences, spheres, institutions, and public interests. Second, we identify four key dynamics that affect the evolution and interplay of these manifestations in global politics: the distinction between public and private, changes in communications technologies, the politics of transparency, and the need to legitimise global governance. These interrelated dynamics reshape the publicness of global politics while sustaining the plurality of the publics that partake in it.

Keywords:  common goods; communication technologies; global governance; global politics; institutions; public‐private divide; publics; transparency



© Janne Mende, Thomas Müller. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.