Accountability and the Separation of Talk and Action

Johan P. Olsen

in Democratic Accountability, Political Order, and Change

Published in print April 2017 | ISBN: 9780198800606
Published online April 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780191840081 | DOI:
Accountability and the Separation of Talk and Action

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  • Comparative Politics
  • European Union


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Democratic agents are supposed to speak the truth so that there is consistency between what they do and what they say. There is, nevertheless, a tension between cultural demands for responsible and accountable actors and the difficulties of establishing responsibility and accountability objectively. Possibly, the tension may contribute to a separation of political talk and political action and this chapter explores factors that may contribute to making it possible for a polity to thrive despite inconsistencies between official narratives and organized practice, and to avoid accountability demands challenging the legitimacy of the political order. This is done using Norway as an example of a fairly settled and legitimate polity integrated by several different ties, and the EU as an example of an emerging order and an unsettled polity with problematic legitimacy and still in search of a unifying narrative.

Keywords: accountability demands; blame games; discontent; image management; New Narrative (for Europe); separation of talk and action

Chapter.  13936 words. 

Subjects: Comparative Politics ; European Union

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