© 2019

Epistemic Governance

Social Change in the Modern World


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Pertti Alasuutari, Ali Qadir
    Pages 1-20
  3. Pertti Alasuutari, Ali Qadir
    Pages 21-35
  4. Pertti Alasuutari, Ali Qadir
    Pages 37-57
  5. Pertti Alasuutari, Ali Qadir
    Pages 59-77
  6. Pertti Alasuutari, Ali Qadir
    Pages 79-104
  7. Pertti Alasuutari, Ali Qadir
    Pages 105-123
  8. Pertti Alasuutari, Ali Qadir
    Pages 125-147
  9. Pertti Alasuutari, Ali Qadir
    Pages 149-168
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 169-192

About this book


This book argues that modern governance is performed by actors who seek social change epistemically, by drawing on widespread, public views of reality. Agents of change such as parliamentarians or social movement activists will assess and affect what they believe to be people’s conceptions of what is possible, rational, and desirable. This often means that these key authority figures will invest in credible knowledge production, as well as appeal to individual and group identifications, emotions, and values.

Alasuutari and Qadir show how this epistemic governance works in three important arenas of social change: parliaments, which debate laws that constitute the bulk of reforms; international organizations that circulate global norms; and social movements and NGOs. Through their analysis, the authors’ detailed, innovative methodology for discourse analysis indicates the utility of epistemic governance as a new paradigm for research into global social change.

This book will be of use to students in upper level degree programs who want to design empirical research into social change as well as researchers in sociology, political science and public policy.


social science theory political rhetoric collective decision making national policy-making globalization research design

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Tampere UniversityTampereFinland
  2. 2.Tampere University TampereFinland

About the authors

Pertti Alasuutari is Professor of Sociology at the Faculty of Social Sciences,Tampere University, Finland. He has published widely in the areas of social theory, cultural and media studies, and social research methodology. 

Ali Qadir is Associate Professor of New Social Research, Tampere University, Finland. Qadir’s research centers on epistemic governance in modern world society and on religion in modernity. He has published widely in global and transnational sociology, and in sociology of religion.

Bibliographic information


“In Epistemic Governance, Alasuutari and Qadir have put together a most impressive analysis, in the Foucauldian tradition, of modern social change. They see society as embedded in evolving discursive frames – conceptions of the world, of the identities of actors in these worlds, and of regulating norms. Their analytic tools illuminate central empirical arenas – especially social movements, national parliaments, and the rapidly growing international organizations.  The work is an important contribution to modern social theory.” (John W. Meyer, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Stanford University, USA)

“This book is key reading for understanding social and political change: what exactly is going on in the persuasion work that makes it possible for worldviews to evolve, policies to get made and influence exerted? Drawing on crucial insights about human communication and blending them succinctly, the authors constructively explore the ways we try to make each other change our minds, and how we strive to make the world make sense. Not to be missed!” (Ricca Edmondson, Professor in the School of Political Science and Sociology, National University of Ireland)

“In Epistemic Governance, Alasuutari and Qadir develop a striking and exciting new perspective for sociology. Emphasizing the persistence of authority in the modern world, they propose to reorient our thinking on social movements, law and power, and non-governmental organizations. In so doing, they subject post-Foucauldian social theory to a major overhaul, theorizing modernity in a new register, and reorienting our thinking about governments and governmentality.” (Isaac Ariail Reed, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia, USA)