Matthias Ecker-Ehrhardt’s current research focuses on the politicization and legitimacy of international organizations, i.e. how they are perceived, evaluated and recognized by societal actors – such as ordinary citizens, non-governmental organizations and political parties. His research interests also include discourse theory and communication-theoretical approaches in IR, the politics of humanitarian aid and European integration.
Current research project:
„The Communicated IO: Public Relations, Civil Society Inclusion and Global Politicization of International Organizations“ (Funded by the German Research Foundation, EC 323/2-1)
Does an increase in the public communication of international organizations (IOs) foster the politicization of their policies and procedures? IOs are publicly debated and contested—that is, politicized—to varying degrees. At the same time, they have opened for societal processes of communication, by virtue of intensified public relations activities as well as the inclusion of civil society organizations (CSO). In this context, it is widely held that IOs’ public accessibility fosters politicization because information about failures becomes more readily available to external actors. However, the opposite might be true as well: an IO might avoid or manipulate public contestation—e.g. by way of professionalizing their public relations. Against this backdrop, the project asks about the impact of IOs’ public relations on politicization. It pursues an explanatory approach with a strong focus on what makes politicization a critical variable for democracy: the emergence of a lively and inclusive public sphere that allows civil society actors to hold IO authority accountable.