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Abstract

This chapter attempts a broad analytical compass for surveying the main actors, institutions and instruments governing our world. 'Governance' is a relatively new but increasingly ubiquitous expression used in this context. Governance may be understood as a mode of exercise of power organized around multiple dispersed sites in which transnational networks of public and private actors and interests, as well as national and local actors, are represented in varying strengths and combinations. This chapter endeavors to unpack the meanings and practices of governance broadly in relation to actors and instruments (who governs and how?) subjects and objects (who and what is governed?), and effects (with what consequences?). Governance raises similar questions across many contexts. Accordingly, this chapter maps the trajectories of governance in five broad fields, i.e. finance, investment, trade, labor and environment to clarify three key sets of transversal questions: 1) what is the nature of the institutional shift to governance, how do the institutions relate to one another, how uniform or coherent are these shifts and relationships? 2) which regulative instruments and processes have come to embody the rule of governance, how do they converge or diverge in different areas? 3) what are the likely future trends and implications?

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