David Held

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David Held (born 1951) is Professor of Political Science at Libera Università Internazionale degli Studi Sociali Guido Carli, and a British political theorist active in the field of international relations, having moved from the Graham Wallas chair of Political Science and the co-directorship of the Centre for the Study of Global Governance at the London School of Economics.[1] Together with Daniele Archibugi, he has been prominent in the development of cosmopolitanism, and of cosmopolitan democracy in particular. He has been an active scholar on issues of globalisation and global governance.


David Held was born in Britain where he spent most of his childhood. He was educated in Britain, France, Germany and the United States. Upon completing his doctoral studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology he conducted post-doctoral research at Cambridge. He has held numerous Visiting Appointments in the United States, Australia, Canada, Spain and Italy, among other places.

David Held co-founded Polity press in 1984, which has become a leading publisher in the social sciences and humanities across the world. He is also the General Editor for Global Policy, an academic journal started in 2008 that focuses on bridging the gap between academics and practitioners on issues of global significance.

In October 2011, Professor David Held was elected Honorary President of the global governance think-tank Civitatis International.

In January 2012, he succeeded Professor Maurice Tucker as Master of University College, Durham, alongside his chair in the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University.[2]


Since his first book was published in 1980 (Introduction to Critical Theory), David Held has been pursuing a multilevel inquiry into the nature and changing form of national and international politics. This approach has involved three kinds of work. First, it has involved extensive empirical enquiry into the dynamic character, structural elements and governance failures of contemporary society. The empirical dimensions of his work have included books such as Global Transformations (1999), Globalization/Anti-globalization (2007), Global Inequality (2007) and Gridlock: Why Global Cooperation is Failing When We Need it Most (2013). These books map the changing global context of politics, how the world has become increasingly interconnected, and how failures of leadership and negotiation at the global level are creating a breakdown of multilateralism and global governance.[citation needed]

Second, he has been investigating the changing nature and form of the modern state and the locus of the political good. Held examines the question of whether the nation state alone, as typically assumed by political theory, can be the sole home of democracy, accountability and the rule of law. This has entailed a critical evaluation of the concepts of democracy, sovereignty, governance and cosmopolitanism, among other concepts. Books that have explored these themes include: Democracy in the Global Order (1999), Models of Democracy (2006), Cosmopolitanism: ideals and realities (2010).[citation needed]

The third element of Prof. Held’s current work is to explore how and in what ways one can move beyond the crises and dilemmas of politics and governance in the contemporary world. Books such as Global Covenant (2004), Debating Globalization (2005) and a wide range of academic articles set out the contours of a multiactor, multilevel democratic politics framed by the fundamental principles of democracy, justice and sustainability.[citation needed]

Accordingly, Held’s work explores, on the one hand, the shift in politics from nation states to what he calls a world of ‘overlapping communities of fate’(where the countries of fortunes are increasingly enmeshed) and, on the other hand, how democratic standards and cosmopolitan values can be entrenched in the global order. In pursuing this multilevel approach Prof. Held sees himself working within the classic tradition of political theory which has always been concerned with how to characterize the world in which we live, how to develop and reach normative goals such as liberty, democracy and social justice, and how to move from where we are to where we might like to be. Prof. Held’s response to this challenge is to explore the way globalization has altered the landscape of politics[citation needed], how cosmopolitanism provides ideals that enable one to rethink politics and the political good, and to pursue political stepping stones that could help embed this agenda. He offers a contribution to a pressing dialogue of our times: how to resolve collective action problems, nationally and globally, through institutions and governance arrangements that enhance democracy, social justice and the participation of all citizens in a democratic public life.

Links to Libya[edit]

Main article: LSE Libya Links

In March, 2011, Held's name came to be associated with the LSE Libya Links controversy. Held was an advisor of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who received his PhD from LSE in 2008.[3]

Major works[edit]

  • Global Policy: Power, Governance and Accountability, with Mathias Koenig-Archibugi. forthcoming 2014.
  • Gridlock: Why Global Cooperation is Failing When We Need it Most, with Tom Hale and Kevin Young, Polity Press, forthcoming 2013.
  • Climate Governance in the Developing World, with Charles Roger and Eva-Maria Nag, Polity Press, forthcoming 2013.
  • The End of the American Century: From 9/11 to the Arab Spring, with Kristian Coates-Ulrichsen, Polity Press, forthcoming 2013.
  • Cosmopolitanism: Ideals and Realities, Polity Press, October 2010.
  • Democracy, climate change and global governance, David Held & Angus Fane Hervey, Policy Network, 2009
  • Cultural Politics in a Global Age: Uncertainty, Solidarity, and Innovation, edited by David Held and Henrietta L. Moore, Oneworld Publications, UK, 2008. (ISBN 978-1-85168-550-9)
  • Progressive foreign policy : new directions for the UK. Polity, Held, David and Mepham, David, (eds.) (2007) Cambridge. (ISBN 0-7456-4114-8)
  • Globalization theory : approaches and controversies. Held, David and McGrew, Anthony, (eds.) (2007), Cambridge. (ISBN 0-7456-3211-4)
  • Cultural politics in a global age. Moore, Henrietta and Held, David, (eds.) (2007) One World, Oxford, (UK. ISBN 978-1-85168-550-9)
  • Global inequality : patterns and explanations. Held, David and Kaya, Ayse, (eds.) (2006) Polity, Cambridge. (ISBN 0-7456-3886-4)
  • Held, David and Koenig-Archibugi, Mathias, (eds.) (2005) Global governance and public accountability. Blackwell, Oxford, UK. ISBN 1-4051-2678-7
  • Held, David (2005) Principles of the cosmopolitan order. In: Brock, Gillian and Brighouse, Harry, (eds.) The Political Philosophy of Cosmopolitanism. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 10–27. ISBN 0-521-84660-9
  • Global Covenant: The Social Democratic Alternative to the Washington Consensus (2004)
  • Cosmopolitanism: A Defence (2003)
  • Globalization/Anti-Globalization co-author (2002), fully revised 2nd edition (2007)
  • Global Transformations: Politics, Economics and Culture, co-author (1999)
  • Re-imagining Political Community. Studies in Cosmopolitan Democracy(with Daniele Archibugi) and Martin Koehler (1998)
  • Cosmopolitan Democracy: An Agenda for a New World Order (with Daniele Archibugi) (1995)
  • Democracy and the Global Order: From the Modern State to Cosmopolitan Governance (1995)
  • Political Theory and the Modern State (1989)
  • Models of Democracy (1987), fully revised 2nd edition (1996), 3rd edition (2006)
  • Introduction to Critical Theory: Horkheimer to Habermas (1989)


  1. ^ Vasagar, Jeevan (31 October 2011). "Academic linked to Gaddafi's fugitive son leaves LSE". The Guardian (London). 
  2. ^ Jonhson, Daniel (2 November 2011). "Former LSE academic linked to Gaddafi’s son made new Castle Master". Palatinate. 
  3. ^ Kristin Deasy. "'The Role of Civil Society in the Democratisation of Global Governance Institutions.' Yes, Qaddafi Jnr. Wrote That" Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Eva Schumacher-Reid
Master of University College, Durham
Succeeded by