The governance debate and the rise of interactive governance

Jacob Torfing, B. Guy Peters, Jon Pierre and Eva Sørensen

in Interactive Governance

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780199596751
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738180 | DOI:
The governance debate and the rise of interactive governance

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In this chapter, we take a closer look at the rise of governance and the critical objections that have been raised by people who believe that governance has little or nothing to offer when it comes to understanding the governing of society and the economy. The chapter begins with a brief discussion of how we define the notoriously slippery notion of governance. In generic terms, governance can be defined as the process of steering society and the economy through collective action. However, this volume focuses on interactive forms of governance in terms of quasi-markets, partnerships, and governance networks that seem to both challenge and transform the role of government in governing society and the economy. The second section argues that the interactive forms of governance adds a new layer on top of the old layer of hierarchical government and the recently added layer of competition-based market-regulation and managerialism associated with New Public Management reforms. The third section explores the theoretical roots of interactive governance in order to show how the notion of interactive governance emerges as a common solution to problems, puzzles, and challenges emerging in different subdisciplines within what we can broadly define as political science. After the genealogical account of interactive governance, we move forward in time in order to consider, first, the current debates on governance, and second, the many objections to the new research governance that we will summarize in terms of “three stages of denial.” After having provided a critical response to the three standard objections to interactive governance, the chapter is concluded with a defense of the bold claim that governance is producing a significant and irreversible change in the governing of society and the economy.

Keywords: interactive governance; collective action; networks; society; public management

Chapter.  10752 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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