Norm Contestation: A Theoretical Framework

  • Betcy Jose
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Political Science book series (BRIEFSPOLITICAL)


This chapter demonstrates how a norm contestation framework can helpfullyexplain behavioral variation within norms. This approach explores how actors’ interpretations of a norm’s logic of appropriateness, as informed by the logic of practicality and the logic of contestedness, may impact intersubjective agreement between norm enforcers and norm users. In doing so, it elucidates aspects of norms not captured by useful explanations rooted in the norm diffusion process or materialist motivations. These frameworks tend to focus on behavioral variation in instances where actors have not yet subscribed to a norm or intentionally violate it to further material interests. Rather than solely seeking to explain actor behavior, a norm contestation framework scrutinizes actors’ understandings of their normative obligations. It concentrates on ambiguous normative environments in which various actors may differently interpret those obligations and norm enforcers’ powers are weakened. In these instances, intersubjective agreement is fluid and shaped by background information and local contexts, concepts incorporated into the logic of practicality (Brunnée and Toope 2010) and the logic of contestedness (Wiener 2007).

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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Betcy Jose
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceUniversity of Colorado DenverDenverUSA

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