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Argues that increasing levels of transparency do not always change international politics for the better.
While the trend toward greater transparency will bring many benefits, Kristin M. Lord argues that predictions that it will lead inevitably to peace, understanding, and democracy are wrong. The conventional view is of authoritarian governments losing control over information thanks to technology, the media, and international organizations, but there is a darker side, one in which some of the same forces spread hatred, conflict, and lies. In this book, Lord discusses the complex implications of growing transparency, paying particular attention to the circumstances under which transparency’s effects are negative. Case studies of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda and the government of Singapore’s successful control of information are included.
“Lord’s argument warns us against attending uncritically to predictions that global transparency will tend inevitably to peace, understanding, and democracy. What she offers is a check to conventional wisdom, and to any such check we should always lend an ear.” — European Journal of Communication
“The topic is very significant, and while there is considerable literature on the subject, the author has found something new to say about it. She takes on the conventional wisdom, challenging it with a very sophisticated argument, numerous examples, and interesting, detailed case studies. It will be difficult for serious scholars to repeat the conventional wisdom in the future without referring to the caveats in this book.” — Joseph S. Nye Jr., Harvard University, author of Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics
“This book provides a good survey of an important subject and a critical perspective that is very much needed in a climate where transparency is seen as an obvious good with immediate consequences.” — Monroe E. Price, coauthor of Self-Regulation and the Internet
Kristin M. Lord is Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. She is the coeditor (with Bernard I. Finel) of Power and Conflict in the Age of Transparency.