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Historical systems of power governance and authority

Kings ruled through their courts, which were gradually transformed from private households into elaborate bureaucracies. Royal religious needs were served by royal chapels—whose personnel often became bishops in the kingdom—and by clerical chancellors, who were responsible for issuing and sealing royal documents. Royal chanceries,… A conceptual history of governance A general concept of governance as a pattern of rule or as the activity of ruling has a long lineage in the English language.

Nonetheless, much of the current interest in governance derives from its specific use in relation to changes in the state since the late 20th century. These changes date from neoliberal reforms of the public sector in the 1980s. Neoliberalism Those who advocate neoliberalism argue that the state is inherently inefficient when compared with markets. Often, neoliberals also suggest that the postwar Keynesian welfare state is in crisis: Neoliberals believe that the postwar state cannot be sustained any longer, especially in a world that is now characterized by highly mobile capital and by vigorous economic competition between states.

Hence, they attempt to roll back the state.

  • Joined-up governance promotes horizontal and vertical coordination between the organizations involved in an aspect of public policy;
  • They do not have to possess any special skills to receive and wield their authority, as their claim to it is based solely on their bloodline or supposed divine designation;
  • Their insistence that individuals, including politicians and civil servants, act in their own interest undermines the idea that policy makers act benevolently to promote a public interest;
  • But two other strands of social science also gave rise to this concept of governance;
  • Rational choice theory extends a type of social explanation found in microeconomics.

They often suggest, in particular, that the state should concentrate on making policy decisions rather than on delivering services. They want the state to withdraw from direct delivery of services. They want to replace state provision of public services with an entrepreneurial system based on competition and markets.

Because neoliberals deride government, many of them look for another term to describe the kind of entrepreneurial pattern of rule they favour. Governance offers them such a concept. The early association of governance with a minimal state and the spread of markets thus arose from neoliberal politicians and the policy wonks, journalists, economists, and management gurus who advised them. Those advocating neoliberal policies often draw on rational choice theory.

Rational choice theory extends a type of social explanation found in microeconomics. Typically, rational choice theorists attempt to explain social outcomes by reference to micro-level analyses of individual behaviour, and they model individual behaviour on the assumption that people choose the course of action that is most in accord with their preferences.

Rational choice theorists influence neoliberal attitudes to governance in large part by way of a critique of the concept of public interest. Their insistence that individuals, including politicians and civil servants, act in their own interest undermines the idea that policy makers act benevolently to promote a public interest. Indeed, their reduction of social facts to the actions of individuals casts doubt on the idea of a public interest beyond the aggregate interests of individuals.

More specifically, rational choice theorists provide neoliberals with a critique of bureaucratic government. Hence, they argue that bureaucrats act to optimize their power and career prospects by increasing the size of their fiefdoms even when doing so is unnecessary. This argument implies that bureaucracies have an inbuilt tendency to grow even when there is no good reason for them so to do. Because rational choice theory privileges micro-level analyses, it might appear to have peculiar difficulties explaining the rise of institutions and perhaps their persistent stability.

Microeconomic analysis has long faced this issue in the guise of the existence of firms. Once rational choice theorists extend such microanalysis to government and social life generally, they face the same issue with respect to all kinds of institutions, including political parties, voting coalitions, and the market economy itself.

The obvious answer is that some authority would punish them if they broke the agreement, and they prefer not being punished. But this answer assumes the presence of a higher authority that can enforce the agreement. Some rational choice theorists thus began to explore how they might explain the rise and stability of norms, agreements, or institutions in the absence of any higher authority. They adopted the concept of governance to refer to norms and patterns of historical systems of power governance and authority that arise and persist even in the absence of an enforcing agent.

Social science The neoliberal concept of governance as a minimal state conveys a preference for less government. Historical systems of power governance and authority, it often does little else, being an example of empty political rhetoric.

Indeed, when social scientists study neoliberal reforms of the public sector, they often conclude that these reforms have scarcely rolled back the state at all. They draw attention instead to the unintended consequences of the reforms.

According to many social scientists, the neoliberal reforms fragmented service delivery and weakened central control without establishing proper markets.

In their view, the reforms led to a proliferation of policy networks in both the formulation of public policy and the delivery of public services.

  • When the officer approaches our car, we ordinarily try to be as polite as possible and pray we do not get a ticket;
  • Rational choice theory extends a type of social explanation found in microeconomics;
  • Whereas the tactics for the Orange Revolution was based around protesting and non-violent tactics, the America Revolution was completely the opposite;
  • For Your Review Think of someone, either a person you have known or a national or historical figure, whom you regard as a charismatic leader;
  • The main ideas and techniques involved are management by results, performance measures, value for money, and closeness to the customer—all of which are tied to various budgetary reforms.

The 1990s saw a massive outpouring of work that conceived of governance as a proliferation of networks. Much of this literature explores the ways in which neoliberal reforms created new patterns of service delivery based on complex sets of organizations drawn from all of the public, private, and voluntary sectors.

It suggests that a range of processes—including the functional differentiation of the state, the rise of regional blocs, globalizationand the neoliberal reforms themselves—left the state increasingly dependent on other organizations for the delivery and success of its policies. Although social scientists adopt various theories of policy networks, and so different analyses of the new pattern of rule, they generally agree that the state can no longer command others.

  • An outline of interpretive sociology G;
  • Partnerships and joined-up governance were supposed to provide settings in which public-sector bodies could engage stakeholders—citizens, voluntary organizations, and private companies—thereby involving them in democratic processes;
  • Define power and the three types of authority.

In their view, the new governance is characterized by networks in which the state and other organizations depend on each other. Even when the state remains the dominant organization, it and the other members of the network are interdependent in that they have to exchange resources if they are to achieve their goals. Many social scientists argue that this interdependence means that the state has to steer other organizations instead of issuing commands to them. They also imply that steering involves a much greater use by the state of diplomacy and related techniques of management.

Some social scientists also suggest that the proliferating networks often have a considerable degree of autonomy from the state. In this view, the key problem posed by the new governance is that it reduces the ability of the state not only to command but even to steer effectively. Social scientists have developed a concept of governance as a complex and fragmented pattern of rule composed of multiplying networks.

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They have done so partly because of studies of the impact of neoliberal reforms on the public sector. But two other strands of social science also gave rise to this concept of governance. First, a concept of governance as networks arose among social scientists searching for a way to think about the role of transnational linkages within the EU.

  1. University of California Press.
  2. Citizen groups participate as partners in aspects of policy making and policy implementation.
  3. Partnerships and joined-up governance are often advocated as ways of promoting social inclusion as well as increasing efficiency.
  4. By the end of both revolutions, their goals were both met. By examining the purposes and characteristics of various governance systems, learners develop an understanding of how different groups and nations attempt to resolve conflicts and seek to establish order and security.
  5. When the officer approaches our car, we ordinarily try to be as polite as possible and pray we do not get a ticket.

Second, a concept of governance as networks appeals to some social scientists interested in general issues about social coordination and interorganizational links. These latter social scientists argue that networks are a distinct governing structure through which to coordinate activities and allocate resources.

They develop typologies of such governing structures—most commonly bureaucracies, markets, and networks—and they identify the characteristics associated with each structure. Their typologies often imply that networks are preferable, at least in some circumstances, to the bureaucratic structures of the post-World War II state and to the markets favoured by neoliberals.

This positive valuation of networks sometimes led to what might be called a second wave of public-sector reform. Resistance and civil society Radicalssocialists, and anarchists have long advocated patterns of rule that do not require the capitalist state.

Many of them look toward civil society as a site of free and spontaneous associations of citizens. Civil society offers them a non-statist site at which to reconcile historical systems of power governance and authority demands of community and individual freedom—a site they hope might be free of force and compulsion. The spread of the new governance has prompted them to distance their visions historical systems of power governance and authority that of the neoliberal rolling back of the state.

Hence, the word governance is used by radicals to denote two distinct phenomena. They use it to describe new systems of force and compulsion associated with neoliberalism. And they use it to refer to alternative conceptions of a non-statist democratic order. There is disagreement among radicals about whether the new governance has led to a decline in the power of the state.

Some argue that the state has just altered the way in which it rules its citizens; it makes more use of bribes and incentives, threats to withdraw benefits, and moral exhortation. Others believe that the state has indeed lost power.

Either way, radicals distinguish the new governance sharply from their visions of an expansion of democracy. In their view, if the power of the state has declined, the beneficiaries have been corporations; they associate the hollowing out of the state with the growing power of financial and industrial capital. Radical analyses of the new governance explore how globalization—or perhaps the myth of globalization—finds states and international organizations acting to promote the interests of capital.

Radicals typically associate their alternative visions of democratic governance with civil society, social movements, and active citizenship.

Those who relate the new governance to globalization and a decline in state power often appeal to parallel shifts within civil society. They appeal to global civil society as a site of popular, democratic resistance to capital. Global civil society typically refers to nongovernmental groups such as Amnesty InternationalGreenpeaceand the International Labour Organization as well as less formal networks of activists and citizens. Questions can arise, of course, as to whether these groups adequately represent their members, let alone a broader community.

However, radicals often respond by emphasizing the democratic potential of civil society and the public sphere. They argue that public debate constitutes one of the main avenues by which citizens can participate in collective decision making. At times, they also place great importance on the potential of public deliberation to generate a rational consensus.

No matter what doubts radicals have about contemporary civil society, their visions of democracy emphasize the desirability of transferring power from the state to citizens who would not just elect a government and then act as passive spectators but rather participate continuously in the processes of governance. The association of democratic governance with participatory and deliberative processes in civil society thus arises from radicals seeking to resist state and corporate power.

These radical ideas are not just responses to the new governance; they also help to construct aspects of it. They inspire new organizations and new activities by existing social movements.

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At times, they influence political agreements—perhaps most notably the international regimes and norms covering human rights and the environment. Hence, social scientists interested in social movements sometimes relate them to new national and transnational forms of resistance to state and corporate power.

To some extent, these social scientists again emphasize the rise of networks. However, when social scientists study the impact of neoliberal reforms on the public sector, they focus on the cooperative relations between the state and other institutionalized organizations involved in policy making and the delivery of public services.

  1. To an extent, the fortunes of public choice theory and neoliberalism ebbed while those of reformist social democrats and network theorists rose.
  2. More specifically, rational choice theorists provide neoliberals with a critique of bureaucratic government.
  3. In developing and transitional states, the impetus for NPM lay more in external pressures, notably those associated with structural-adjustment programs.

In contrast, when social scientists study social movements, they focus on the informal links between activists concerned to contest the policies and actions of corporations, states, and international organizations. The new governance The interest in governance derives in large part from reforms of the public sector that began in the 1980s, and new governance refers to the apparent spread of markets and networks following upon these reforms.


It points to the varied ways in which the informal authority of markets and networks constitutedsupplemented, and supplanted the formal authority of governments. Many people adopted a more diverse view of state authority and its relationship to civil society. Public-sector reform occurred in two principal waves. The first wave consisted of the new public management NPMas advocated by neoliberals; these reforms were attempts to increase the role of markets and of corporate management techniques in the public sector.

The second wave of reforms consisted of attempts to develop and manage a joined-up series of networks informed by a revived public-sector ethos. They were in part responses to the perceived consequences of the earlier reforms. Some advocates of NPM implied that it is the single best way for all states at all times. The same can be said of some advocates of partnerships and networks. Studies of both waves of reform can imply, moreover, that change was ubiquitous.

It is thus worth emphasizing at the outset both the variety and the limits of public-sector reform. Reforms varied from state to state. Although many other developed states introduced similar reforms, they did so only selectively, and, when they did so, they often altered the content and the implementation of the reforms in accord with their institutions and traditions.