Category Archives: Governance

Social democracy after the Third Way: restoration or renewal?

Matthew Flinders
Matthew Flinders

By Matthew Flinders. This was originally published on the Oxford University Press blog.

An invitation from the British Library to give the first in a new public lecture series called “Enduring Ideas” was never a request I was going to decline. But what “enduring idea” might I focus on and what exactly would I want to say that had not already been said about an important idea that warranted such reflection? The selected concept was “democracy” and the argument sought to set out and unravel a set of problems that could – either collectively or individually – be taken to explain the apparent rise in democratic disaffection.

Such is the world we live in that a lecture is no longer a lecture but rapidly becomes a multi-media “artefact” and the beginning of a global discussion. I suppose this is probably not quite true of all lectures, I’ve been to quite a few that really do need to be forgotten, but I’m pleased to say that the intellectual ecosystem seems to have exploded in all sorts of ways that I could never have imagined. Continue reading Social democracy after the Third Way: restoration or renewal?

Does political control increase bureaucracies’ responsiveness to public pressures?

Saar Alon-Barkat & Sharon Gilad
Saar Alon-Barkat & Sharon Gilad

Nowadays, probably more than ever, bureaucratic organizations and senior civil servants are directly exposed to public pressures, including media coverage, public protest and shifts in public opinion. In our recent article in Policy & Politics entitled Political Control or legitimacy deficit? Bureaucracies’ symbolic response to bottom-up public pressures, we explore what makes a bureaucracy more or less attentive and responsive to bottom-up public pressures – a question that stems from our broader concern with the responsiveness of government institutions.

In our article, we suggest two possible explanations for bureaucracies’ attentiveness to public pressures. On the one hand, one might expect higher levels of political control to render bureaucracies more attentive to public pressures in order to preempt intervention by politicians who are reliant on public support. On the other hand, regulation scholars have suggested that autonomous bureaucratic organizations (such as independent regulatory agencies), which are subjected to lower degrees of political control, are nonetheless eager to display their attentiveness Continue reading Does political control increase bureaucracies’ responsiveness to public pressures?

Democracy without the State, by Mark Purcell

This post originally appeared on Mark’s blog, https://pathtothepossible.wordpress.com/2015/09/19/democracy-without-the-state/ and is reused with kind permission.

Mark Purcell giving his keynote at the conference last month
Mark Purcell giving his keynote at the conference last month

Below is the text of the talk I just gave at the Policy & Politics conference in Bristol (England). As you can see, I was very conscious of the audience, which I was not quite sure I had a handle on, but which turned out, I think, to be a group of people who think a lot about government and policy, but do so very critically and intelligently. So my message, that we need to get serious about thinking democracy without the State, was in a sense a message “from beyond,” but one they were able to hear and engage with, even if they did not fully accept it. Also important to know is that the theme of the conference was “Democracy, Inequality, and Power.”

[The paragraphs in brackets were part of the talk, but they were offered as asides. Those with a “***SKIP***” tag were in fact left out.]

DEMOCRACY AGAINST, BEYOND, AND WITHOUT THE STATE

Introduction

When you find yourself on a list of plenary speakers like this one, in which all the others have really deep track records of academic achievement, you ask yourself what the heck you are doing here and what you can contribute. I don’t have their record, I am not a social scientist, I don’t study inequality, I am not even British.

I guess what I am is someone who has thought about and written some on democracy, on the idea and practices of democracy. So I thought what I would do today is offer a contribution along those lines. What I plan to do, we’ll see how it goes, is to introduce into the conference what I anticipate will be a minor current of thought. Continue reading Democracy without the State, by Mark Purcell

Can democracy survive?

IMG_3928by Tessa Coombes, PhD Researcher at Bristol University

For the final plenary session of the conference Prof. Andrew Gamble, from Cambridge University, took us back to the issue of democracy and its ability to survive and even thrive. We were reminded that for the first time in the modern state system authoritarian regimes are in retreat and representative democracy, in some form or other, is on the rise.

Representative liberal democracies have been described as the least admirable form of governance not least because of their inability to take difficult decisions and their short term thinking. Despite this, in the 20th century, representative democracy came to be seen as an ideal state. But it now seems we are in a time of transition, where there is a real disengagement and disillusionment with mainstream politics, where the choice is narrowing and where people are indifferent to their right to vote. This crisis of representative politics reflects a crisis of trust in our politics and politicians. Once more, despite this process, representative democracy Continue reading Can democracy survive?

Democracy without the state

tessa-profile2by Tessa Coombes, guest blogger for P&P Conference 2015.

The Policy and Politics Annual Conference 2015 kicked off with a fascinating challenge to our thinking about democracy and the state. Mark Purcell, from the University of Washington, took us on a philosophical journey of discovery about the true meaning of the word democracy, concluding with the notion that the state and democracy are the antithesis of one another.

Mark offered us what he termed a minor current of thought to haunt our discussions and to stimulate new and better currents of thought throughout the conference. He premised his presentation on the idea that the state and democracy need to be seen as antithesis and that we do indeed need democracy.

The debate about power, according to Mark, is about more than we think it is and we need to think about it differently; we need to think of it as power to rather than over. That is, all people retain power to act into and change the Continue reading Democracy without the state

Compound Collaboration

Chris Ansell
Chris Ansell

Chris Ansell, from the University of California, Berkeley, and co-editor of the current Special Issue of Policy & Politics introduces his article on collaboration.

Complexity theorists talk about “networks of networks.”   Engineers talk of “systems of systems.”  My article in Policy & Politics is essentially about “collaborations of collaborations.”

Large-scale efforts to address multi-faceted problems that mobilize many independent stakeholders often take the form of compound collaborations.   The collaborative Everglades Restoration Program in the U.S. includes over 80 restoration projects, each requiring collaboration.  The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a complex effort aggregating the outputs of thousands of scientists collaborating in different tasks forces and working groups. And UNAIDS, the Stop TB Partnership, and the Roll Back Malaria Partnership–the subjects of my article–are international collaborations of national collaborations to halt the spread of major global diseases.

Our stock of knowledge about collaborative governance has grown significantly in the past decade.   But we still know relatively little about the leadership and organizational challenges faced by large-scale Continue reading Compound Collaboration

Policy & Politics July 2015 Special Issue: Scale and Scaling of Interactive Governance

David Sweeting
David Sweeting

by David Sweeting, Associate Editor, Policy & Politics

A truly international edition of Policy & Politics is now available electronically and in print. Comprising authors based in Europe, the US, Australia, Hong Kong, and Brazil, the contributions in this Special Issue illuminate issues pertaining to collaboration and networks, all under the banner of ‘scale and scaling of interactive governance’. Edited by Chris Ansell and Jacob Torfing – both plenary speakers at the 2014 Policy & Politics conference – the contributions in the volume individually and collectively live up to the journal’s aim to advance knowledge in social and public policy.

In the words of the guest editors the articles investigate ‘the scalar dimensions of collaborative governance and explore the challenges of Continue reading Policy & Politics July 2015 Special Issue: Scale and Scaling of Interactive Governance