Actors, activities, and forms of authority in the IPCC

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Scholarship on global environmental assessments call for these organisations to become more reflexive to address challenges around participation, inclusivity of perspectives, and responsivity to the policy domains they inform. However, there has been less call for reflexivity in IPCC scholarship or closer examination of how routine concepts condition scholarly understanding by focusing on science and politics over other social dynamics. In this article, I suggest that scholarly reflexivity could advance new analytical approaches that provide practical insights for changing organisational structures. Through reflecting on my understanding of the IPCC, I develop actors, activities, and forms of authority as a new analytical framework for studying international organisations and knowledge bodies. Through its application, I describe the social order of the IPCC within and between the panel, the bureau, the technical support units, the secretariat and the authors, which is revealing of which actors, on the basis of what authority, have symbolic power over the writing of climate change. The fine-grained analysis of organisations enabled by this analytical framework reveals how dominance can and is being remade through intergovernmental relations and potentially, identifies avenues that managers of these bodies can pursue to challenge it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)333-353
Number of pages21
JournalReview of International Studies
Issue number2
Early online date13 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 13 Mar 2024


  • activities
  • actors
  • authority
  • bourdieu
  • climate change
  • developing countries
  • international organisation
  • IPCC
  • knowledge
  • participation
  • reflexivity
  • social order
  • symbolic power


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