Gendered political spaces in international relations : the case of NGO use of information & communication technologies (ICTs)
The thesis contributes to evolving debates on spatial theorising in the discipline of International Relations (IR). It argues that spatial interpretation in the discipline is both gendered, through its focus on public institutions of politics, and state-centric, through a neo/Realist hegemony of ideas in its discourse. These discursive parameters are argued to impose limitations on the study of transnational phenomena, and the thesis therefore develops a framework for analysis apposite to research into political activity that is not state-centred. This analytical frarnework is based initially upon the work of Henri Lefebvre, and identifies three categories of analysis: spatial practice, representations of space and space of representation. In this respect the thesis introduces a form of spatial methodology to the discipline. The thesis argues that these categories provide a more flexible model for analysis of complex interactions in the international arena than extant approaches in the discipline can provide, by permitting examination of political activity at the level of agency. The spatial categories are applied to two transnational phenomena of relevance to the discipline: the international political practices of non-governmental organizations(NGOs), and their use of information and communications technologies (ICTs). A survey of the use of ICT's by Amnesty International, Christian Aid, Friends of the Earth, the Institute for Journalism in Transition and Oxfam is undertaken. The thesis then analyses the use of ICTs as a political tool by these organizations, using spatial theories as a framework. The application of spatial theories as a methodological approach aims to extend the discursive parameters of the discipline by introducing a less gendered, more flexible analytical model, appropriate to research into complex political practices.