Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Political Science

Major Professor

Steven Roach, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Michael Gibbons, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Bernd Reiter, Ph.D.


global civil society, legitimization process, international public sphere, Jürgen Habermas


How does the international system move from an anarchic system driven by power to a global community driven by the needs/wants of the community at large? Jürgen Habermas utilizes the tenets of his Communicative Action Theory to underline the importance of communicatively based repertoire in the international system between and among states and non-state actors and the citizens themselves. How does arguing and reasoning among states and international institutions bring together legitimization and order? My research aims to analyze the movement of the international system from anarchy towards a global civil society. In doing so, I will examine Communicative Action Theory in International Relations, in particular the development of legitimization processes in international politics, the role of state sovereignty and its effect on the legitimization process of non-state actors. I argue that underdeveloped legitimization processes at the international level consist of fragile consensus building mechanisms that explain why disagreement can and often does lead to violence. However, I also contend that the international system is moving toward a more developed global civil society.