Stage Three Evolution of Universal Participation

The NLC framework also addresses the second transition in global re-sponse—the divergent understandings of universal participation that emerge after the FCCC negotiations. This is hypothesized to result from further internalization—universal participation becomes taken for granted—as well as the norm slippage that adaptive agents with internal models produce.

Ironically, the transition to divergent ideas of a global response in the later climate change negotiations can be attributed to the fact that the universal participation norm was internalized and moved toward taken-for-granted status. Internalization is not an endpoint. The verbal model posits that the internal understandings that actors have of the universal participation norm are not static. They continually change through evaluation and continual interpretation. This is especially interesting in the case of states, because as the people who represent states change (i.e., transition from Bush to Clinton), the interpretation of social norms changes—internal rule models change.

The verbal model hypothesizes that the second transition in global responses can be attributed to the continued adaptive behavior of agents, constrained by the overarching universal participation norm. States, still trying to fit with universal participation but driven by numerous other forces (domestic and external), continually interpret what "fitting" with the universal participation norm entails. Thus, slippage or divergence arises through the same process (complex adaptation and the NLC) that drove the emergence of universal participation in the first place.

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