Discreet Power: How the World Economic Forum Shapes Market Agendas

In This Review

Discreet Power: How the World Economic Forum Shapes Market Agendas
By Christina Garsten and Adrienne Sorbom
Stanford University Press, 2018
240 pp.

For more than half a century, the World Economic Forum has organized an annual gathering of politicians, business executives, experts, and policymakers in Davos, Switzerland. The wef has no formal authority, but it has become a major forum for elites to discuss policy ideas and priorities. In this informative study, Garsten and Sorbom explore both the inner workings and the communication strategies of the WEF. They are troubled by its lack of democratic accountability, but it is difficult to replicate democratic institutions such as elected parliaments in international bodies. As appealing as an international parliament might be, the world is not likely to see one anytime soon, especially not one that can discuss complex issues in a common language rather than simply make speeches designed for domestic constituents. In the end, the authors conclude that the WEF does perform a useful service, even if it is biased toward elite perceptions.

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