Power and Responsibility

Christopher K. Ansell

in Pragmatist Democracy

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780199772438
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199918997 | DOI:
Power and Responsibility

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With the exception of Mary Parker Follett’s work, Pragmatists have not developed an explicit approach to managing power. This chapter argues that Pragmatism can broadly adopt a separation-of powers approach, but should supplement it with attention to how third parties can civilize power and how power can be shared. The chapter also argues that attempts to externally impose accountability through layers of rules and oversight are often counter-productive and can undercut an authentic sense of responsibility. The cultivation of shared responsibility in governance typically requires a significant degree of autonomy and the development of a supportive organizational ethos. To understand the possibilities for cultivating shared powers, the chapter explores the tradeoffs between “divided power” and “shared power” models of federalism, arguing that the later has strong affinities with Follett’s “power-with” perspective.

Keywords: power; responsibility; Mary Parker Follett; accountability; shared powers; divided powers; separation-of-powers

Chapter.  7571 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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