Rhetorical legitimation: Global scripts as strategic devices of international organizations

Terence C. Halliday*, Susan Block-Lieb, Bruce Greenhow Carruthers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


This paper focuses on a largely neglected aspect of legitimation in international organizations (IOs)-the rhetorical work done by IO scripts as a legitimation strat-egy of IOs. Based on extensive research within regional and global IOs, we demonstrate four aspects of rhetorical legitimation. First, IO texts draw upon a finite repertoire of rhetorical devices (a) to propagate legitimation strengths of an IO, (b) to amplify or compensate for legitimation weaknesses and (c) to express rhetorical repertoires which convey their own intrinsic merits. Second, configurations of rhetorical devices in IO texts are affected by temporal contexts, such as exogenous shocks and the historical sequencing of IO norm production. Third, the negotiation of relations of IO interdependency, including competition and cooperation, are partly signaled and managed through the rhetorical repertoires of IO products. Fourth, texts have their own properties, formal and substantive, that are crafted to persuade domestic law-makers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbermwp024
Pages (from-to)77-112
Number of pages36
JournalSocio-Economic Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 26 2010


  • Economic development
  • Financial crisis
  • Financial markets
  • Globalization
  • International economic order
  • Norms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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