Stockholm university

Hans AgnéProfessor

About me

Many of my research interests connect to democracy in one way or the other. I am interested in the meaning, the value, the boundaries, the institutions, and the causes and effects of democracy, in particular but not exclusively beyond the state and in contexts where the role or power of states is changing.  I have pursued research on these topics in political theory, comparative politics, international relations and international political economy. Some extensions of my central research interests include European politics, e.g. enlargement, constitutional, and monetary and fiscal politics. Other extensions, or specifications, of my core interest include civil society actors in global governance, promotion of democracy through foreign interventions, theories and politics of international recognition, emotions in international politics, problem solving capacities of international institutions, in particular regarding food security and peace and war.

I have been a visiting or affiliated scholar, or studied, at Lund University, Uppsala University, Sorbonne University (Paris), Leeds University, London School of Economics (LSE), Catania University, Stellenbosch University, WZB Berlin Social Science Center, and Oxford University.



International peer-review journal articles

Other peer-reviewed publications

Invited or internally reviewed publications

Anthologies, special issues


Debate articles

Research projects

Articles in international peer-review journals

(2022) “The costs of legitimacy for political institutions.” Global studies quarterly 2 (1): 1-16.  With Fredrik Söderbaum.

2020)  “Introducing the Sounds of Data to the Study of Politics: A Choir of Global Legitimacy Crises”, New Political Science 42 (3): 272-288. With Thomas Sommerer and David G. Angeler.

(2020) Introducing the Sounds of Data to the Study of Politics: A Choir of Legitimacy Crises in Global Governance in New Political Science (forthcoming). With Thomas Sommerer and David Angeler.

(2019) On Legitimacy Crises and the Resources of Global Governance Institutions: A Surprisingly Weak Relationship? In Global Policy 10 (3): 313-326. With Thomas Sommerer and Bart Bes.

(2018) “Why does global democracy not inspire explanatory research? Removing conceptual obstacles towards a new research agenda”, Journal of International Political Theory (published ahead of print)

(2018) “Should first-year doctoral students be supervised collectively or individually? Effects on thesis completion and time to completion”, Higher Education Research and Development 37 (4): 669-682.

(2018) “Democratism: Towards an explanatory approach to international politics”, Review of international studies 44 (3): 547-569.

(2016) “Accountability’s Effect: Reaction Speed and Legitimacy in Global Governance.” Global Governance 22 (4): 575–594.

(2018) “NGO Influence in International Organizations: Information, Access, and Exchange”, British Journal of Political Science 48 (1): 213-238. With Jonas Tallberg, Lisa Maria Dellmuth, and Andreas Duit (published ahead-of-print 2015). 

(2015) “Does stakeholder involvement foster democratic legitimacy in international organizations? An empirical assessment of a normative theory” Review of International Organizations 10 (4): 465-488. With Lisa Dellmuth and Jonas Tallberg.

(2014) “Is successful democracy promotion possible? The conceptual problem”, in Democratization, 21(1): 49-71.

(2013) “The politics of international recognition: Symposium introduction”. International Theory 5 (1): 94–176.

(2012) “Democratic founding: We the people and the others - A rejoinder to Mark Tushnet”. International Journal of Constitutional Law 2012 10 (3): 866-870.

 (2012) “Democratic founding: We the people and the others”. International Journal of Constitutional Law 10 (3): 836-861.

(2011) “Answering questions in parliament during budget debates: Deliberative reciprocity and globalisation in Western Europe” in Parliamentary Affairs 64 (1): 153-174.

(2011) “The Autonomy of Globalizing States: Bridging the Gap between Democratic Theory and International Political Economy”, in International Political Science Review 32(1): 43-60.

(2010) “Why democracy must be global: self-founding and foreign intervention”, in International Theory 2 (3):  381–409.

(2009) “European Union Conditionality: Coercion or Voluntary adaptation?”, in Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations 8 (1): 1-18.

(2007) “The Myth of International Delegation: Limits to and Suggestions for Democratic Theory in the Context of the European Union”, in Government and Opposition, vol. 42 (1): 18-45.

(2006). “A Dogma of Democratic Theory and Globalization: Why Politics Need not Include Everyone it Affects” in European Journal of International Relations 12 (3): 433-458.

Peer-review publications in venues other than international journals  

(2022) “Adaptive Democracy in times of Crisis: Lessons from Sweden”, in Van Beek, Ursula (ed.). Democracy under Pressure: Resilience or Retreat? Palgrave Macmillan. With Tommy Möller.

(2018) “Legitimacy in global governance research: How normative or sociological it should be?”, in Jonas Tallberg, Karin Bäckstrand and Jan Aart Scholte (eds) Legitimacy in Global Governance: Sources, Processes, and Consequences. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

(2018) “Studying Consequences of Legitimacy in Global Governance”,  In Jonas Tallberg, Karin Bäckstrand, and Jan Aart Scholte (eds.) Legitimacy in Global Governance: Sources, Processes, and Consequences, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Together with Thomas Sommerer.

(2015) “Popular power in the European Union: Delegated or Alienated?”, in Piattoni, Simona (ed.) The European Union: Democratic Principles and Institutional Architectures in Times of Crisis. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 46-62.

(2010) “Does global democracy matter? Hypotheses on famine and war”, in Jönsson, Christer and Tallberg, Jonas (eds), Transnational Actors in Global Governance: Patterns, Explanations, and Implications. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 177-196.

(2009) “Irrevocable powers and democratic accountability”, in Sverker Gustavsson, Christer Karlsson, Thomas Persson (eds.) The Illusion of Accountability in the European Union, Routledge, pp. 51-66.

(2008) “The Foundation of Legitimate States”, Statsvetenskaplig tidskrift 1: 35-42. This article is an updated version of a funding application, peer-reviewed by the funder, but invited for publication, not peer-reviewed, by the journal itself.

(2006). “Measuring Democratic Deliberation”, in Political Concepts 11 (November): 1-17.

Invited or internally reviewed publications (no blind or external review)

(2023) Democracy beyond the state in the age of cities: Explaining crisis dynamics in national democracy. In Juval Portugali (ed.) The Crisis of Democracy in the Age of Cities, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 246-65. 

(2011) “Cosmopolitan democratic theory and legitimate founding of political community: Why Turkey has a right to participate in the politics of EU enlargement”. In Daniele Archibugi and Guido Montani (ed.) European Democracy and Cosmopolitan Democracy. Ventotene: Altiero Spinelli Institute for Federalist Studies, pp. 7-20.

(2011) “Fiskal union for en starkare demokrati?” in Ulf Bernitz, Thomas Persson and Lars Oxelheim (eds) Överlever EMU utan fiskal union? Europaperspektiv 2011. Stockholm: Santérus, pp. 247-273.

(2010) ”Disciplin, inspiration och anarki: Manifest för en god statsvetenskap” in Statsvetenskaplig tidskrift 4: 402-06.

(2006) ”Påtvingad demokrati - det filosofiska problemet”, in Internationella Studier, 2006: 4.

(2005) ”Folkomröstningar och demokrati”, in Internationella studier, 2005:2.

(2002) ”Demokratins former i den internationella politiken och EU” i EU - demokratiskt och effektivt? Stockholm: Fritzes, pp. 59-77.

(2002) “Utvärdering eller informationsskrift – en ibland mumlande bok” in Politologen, Våren 2002. Recension av Jonas Tallberg (red.) När EU kom till Sverige. Ordförandeskapet i EU 2001.

(2002) ”Europeisk demokrati sui generis. En ofta antydd men aldrig utarbetad och intagen ståndpunkt” in Working papers, 2002:1, Departement of Political Science, Stockholm University.

(2000) ”Den europeiska föreningen av välfärdsstat och gränsöverskridande kapitalism”, in Ulf Bernitz, Sverker Gustavsson et al. Årsbok för europaforskning 2000. Stockholm: Santérus, pp. 223-47

(1999) “To Share Democratic Legitimacy Between Different Political Levels”, in Hans Agné, Cees van der Eijk, Brigid Laffan, Britta Lejon, Pippa Norris, Hermann Schmitt and Richard Sinnott. Citizen Participation in European Politics. Stockholm: Fritzes, pp.117-136. (The diagrams in this publication was distorted during the production phase; the author may be contacted for a corrected version.)

(1999) ”Väktarteorin. En lösning på problemet att demokratiskt rättfärdiga den europeiska centralbankens konstitutionella särställning”, in Statsvetenskaplig tidskrift 1999 (2): 139-61.

(1998) ”Demokrati på europeisk nivå”, in Hans Agné (ed.). Demokrati på europeisk nivå? Stockholm: Fritzes, pp. 7-44. With contributions by Mats Lundström, Giandomenico Majone, Fritz Scharpf.

Anthologies, special issues, co-authored reports

(2013). The politics of International Recognition, symposium published in International Theory 5 (1): 94-176.  Forum published with Jens Bartelson, Christine Chwaszcza, Eva Erman, Mikulas Fabry, Benjamin Herborth, Oliver Kessler, Steve Krasner, and Thomas Lindemann.

(2002) EU - demokratiskt och effektivt? Stockholm: Fritzes. Public report together with Christer Karlsson.

(1999) Citizen Participation in European Politics. Stockholm: Fritzes. Public report together with Cees van der Eijk, Brigid Laffan, Britta Lejon, Pippa Norris, Hermann Schmitt and Richard Sinnott 1999.

(1998) Demokrati på europeisk nivå? Stockholm: Fritzes. With contributions by Mats Lundström, Giandomenico Majone, Fritz Scharpf 1998.[1]


(2022) Democratism: Explaining international politics with democracy beyond the state. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.

(2022, forthcoming). Global legitimacy crises: Decline and revival of multilateral governance. Oxford University Press. Together with Thomas Sommerer, Fariborz Zelli, and Bart Bes. 

(2004) Democracy Reconsidered: The Prospects of its Theory and Practice during Internationalisation - Britain, France, Sweden, and the EU. Department of Political Science, Stockholm University.

Debate articles and popular science (selected)

Teaterbiljett vore bästa julklappen till politikerna” Dagens Nyheter, Debattartikel. 2023-12-25.

Politiken måste lämna de tre återvändsgränderna”. Dagens Nyheter, Debattartikel. 2022-12-24.
"Feministisk utrikespolitik relevant även efter Ukraina". Debattartikel, Dagens Nyheter. 2022-05-01.

Alltför lite liberalism”. Debattartikel, Uppsala Nya Tidning, 2018-09-10.

Collectively supervised PhDs finish more quickly”. The London School of Economics Impact Blog, April 2018.  ­

Fel syn på universitetet ger fusk och bristande kvalitet”. Debattartikel, Dagens Nyheter 2017-06-06.

“Global governance and the big wrong of political science”. Blogpost 2016-10-28. Available at With Thomas Sommerer.

Flyktingkrisen öppnar vägar till en bättre värld”. Debattartikel, Dagens Nyheter 2015-11-15.

”Tiggarna en ödesfråga för EU”. Debattartikel, Göteborgsposten 2014-05-23, with Maria Janson and Sofia Näsström.

“Gemensamma skatter ökar friheten i EMU”, Debattartikel, Svenska Dagbladet 2011-05-15.

“S har inte förstått dagens arbeten”, Debattartikel, Göteborgsposten 2011-01-18. 

”Öppenhet skapar en säkrare värld”, Debattartikel, Svenska Dagbladet 2010-12-11.

“Erkänn stater på demokratiska grunder”, Debattartikel, Sydsvenska dagbladet 2008-02-22.

“EU-politiken tvingar de nya moderaterna att bekänna färg", Debattartikel, Europaportalen 2006-09-26.  Adjusted version of the article published by LO-tidningen two months later approximately.

”Omotiverat hårda straff i Göteborg. Vad menar egentligen svenska domstolar med "demokrati?". Debattartikel. Dagens Nyheter, kulturdelen. 2002-03-05.

Also in this category: A large number of music and performing art reviews in Svenska dagbladet 1997-99 that on some occasions also addressed political and social issues

Current research projects

The transformation of democracy: new facts and explanations

Funded by RJ Sabbatical

Nationalism is back as a dominating force in world politics (think Trump, Brexit, Putin). Politics is also more global than ever before (think migration, the economy, digital communication). The situation creates paradoxes for students of democracy. Why do people in a world that is more global than ever turn to national politics to secure their democracy, sometimes with the result that politics becomes more authoritarian and less democratic in the long run? And why are other people, who also claim to defend democracy, prepared to transfer decision-making power to the relatively “undemocratic” international political level where “might trumps rights” and “West is the best” in many cases? This project explains these paradoxes and highlights new opportunities for democrats to achieve their goals by clarifying how democracy and global politics are intertwined and influence decisions at all levels. The knowledge is available in unpublished form or is spread between different publications and research programs in which I have participated for about ten years. To avail the knowledge for academic debate and political improvements, however, an extensive work of synthetization and book publication is needed. The specific purpose of this project is to provide just that, by developing, applying, and testing a theory of how global and international politics develop as a consequence of how democratic it is based on a fundamentally reconstructed concept of democracy. The issues explained in the planned monograph include war and peace, foreign policy strategies, migration among countries, economic resource allocation, politics of artificial intelligence, and the effectiveness of international institutions to protect the environment and human rights.

Legitimacy in Global Governance

Today’s more global world requires substantial global governance. Consider climate change, Internet communications, epidemics, financial markets, cultural heritage, military security, trade flows, and human rights. All indicate the significant global quality of key contemporary societal problems.

To make global governance operate effectively demands legitimacy: that is, the consent of those who are governed. Without legitimacy, an authority has to depend on coercion, secrecy and trickery – and policies are often less effective as a result. When citizens lack faith in global governance, it becomes more difficult to gain governments’ support for ambitious policy goals, to secure national ratification of negotiated agreements, and to achieve effective compliance with rules and norms. Thus a lack of legitimacy means insufficient and ineffective global governance for today’s global challenges.

The purpose of this research program is to offer the first systematic and comprehensive analysis of legitimacy in global governance. To what extent are global governance institutions (GGIs) regarded as legitimate? What explains that legitimacy? By what processes are GGIs legitimated and delegitimated? What are the consequences of legitimacy (or its absence) for the functioning of GGIs? How are these legitimacy dynamics in global governance similar to or different from the dynamics of legitimacy in the nation-state and other forms of governance?

While legitimacy in global governance has generated growing interest in recent years, it has not yet been researched methodically by a coordinated team of specialists. We address the overarching question of why, how, and with what consequences GGIs gain, sustain and lose legitimacy by exploring three principal themes: (1) sources of legitimacy, (2) legitimation and delegitimation strategies, and (3) consequences of legitimacy. In the broadest sense, the program considers what systematic attention to legitimacy can tell us about world politics, and what experiences from world politics suggest for understanding legitimacy in contemporary politics generally.

The Founding of Legitimate States: The Problem of External Constituent Powers

Funded by the Swedish Research Council

In normative theory it goes without saying that people should establish their own political orders. Perhaps the most famous expression of this moral intuition is found in the preamble of the American constitution. ‘We the people… establish this Constitution…’ began the founding fathers and sent a message to revolutionary movements throughout the world that people have a right to constitute their own states. However, the creation of new states may sometimes involve people with no intention of becoming citizens in the future state. The US-led imposition of new regimes on Afghanistan and Iraq is one example and the UN administration of post-conflict societies in Kosovo and East Timor is another. Could such policies be reconciled with the conviction that people should establish their own political orders? This project will develop normative theory so as to account for this question. It will identify traditional principles of how a legitimate state is constituted by powers internal to the state and assess their usefulness and validity in the context of external powers. The aim of the project is to decide in what ways, if any, external powers can and cannot be used for the purpose of constituting legitimate states.

Democracy Beyond the Nation State? Transnational Actors and Global Governance

Research program funded by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation.

This research program explores the role of transnational actors in the democratization of global governance. More specifically, the program addresses three scholarly themes: (1) transnational actors and the democratization of international institutions, (2) democracy and public-private partnerships in global governance, and (3) the democratic credentials of transnational actors. The program goes beyond existing research in three central respects. First, it integrates normative democratic theory and empirical research in a global context. In contrast to the strong emphasis on normative theory in existing research, this program pursues a dual agenda, tracing the implications of alternative models of democracy for the prospects of democratization, and exploring empirically actual attempts to democratize international institutions through transnational organization. Second, the program adopts an ambitious comparative research design. As opposed to the single-case studies that dominate existing empirical research, this program operates with a broad comparison across issue-areas, and addresses transnational organization in fields such as trade, development, human rights, security, and the environment. Third, it includes and assesses the full spectrum of transnational actors. Whereas existing studies of transnational organization in global governance tend to focus either on civil society actors or multinational corporations, we study political processes that involve both categories, and assess the democratic credentials of both categories. The program is jointly conducted by researchers at Lund University and Stockholm University.

The Design of International Institutions: Legitimacy, Effectiveness, and Distribution in Global Governance

Funded by the European Research Council.

One of the most profound trends in global governance over the past two decades is the grow­ing extent to which international institutions offer mechanisms for the participation of trans­national actors. This project will explore two central research questions, pertaining to the causes and effects of this shift in the design of international institutions: (1) Why have inter­national institutions increasingly opened up to transnational actor involvement? (2) What are the consequences of involving transnational actors for the democratic legitimacy, problem-solving effectiveness, and distributional effects of international institutions? These are re­search questions that previously have not been explored systematically in existing literatures on international institutional design, transnational actors in global governance, and democracy beyond the nation-state. This project opens up a new research agenda on the design of inter­national institutions through an ambitious combination of novel theory development and comparative empirical research. Theoretically, the project develops and tests alternative hy­potheses about the causes and effects of transnational participation in international policy-making. Empirically, the project explores the dynamics of transnational participation through comparative case studies of five major international institutions, supplemented with a large-n mapping of formal mechanisms of transnational access in a broader sample of institutions. The project is led by Jonas Tallberg.

Academic training (selected)

Stockholm University, Stockholm.
Doctor in Philosophy in Political Science, November 2004.

Uppsala University, Uppsala.
M.A. in Political Science, January 1998.

Sorbonne College of French Civilisation, Paris.
French Literature and Writing, 1995-96

Teaching and research experience (selected)

Research Fellow and Lecturer, Stockholm University, since July 2005. Department of Political Science

Associate Research Fellow, Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Stockholm, 2004-2006, 2008.

Junior lecturer and researcher, Stockholm University, 1999-2003.

Public Commission Expert, Demokratiutredningen (Commission on Democracy), and EU-2004 Utredningen (EU-2004 Commission), Ministry of Justice, Stockholm, 1998-2002.

Research projects