Journal Article

Agency and initiative by community associations in relations of shared governance: between civil society and local state

Susan A. Ostrander

in Community Development Journal

Published on behalf of Community Development Journal

Volume 48, issue 4, pages 511-524
Published in print October 2013 | ISSN: 0010-3802
Published online November 2012 | e-ISSN: 1468-2656 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cdj/bss051
Agency and initiative by community associations in relations of shared governance: between civil society and local state

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This paper argues for the importance of emphasizing the agency and the initiative of community voluntary associations in relations of shared governance with the local state. This is intended to counter what the author sees as a current over emphasis on government-initiated, -directed, -guided or -administered forms of collaboration. Dangers documented by other scholars of this kind of collaborative governance include cooptation, placation, lack of real authority, absence of diversity and overall lack of parity with government. Based on a larger qualitative study of a mid-sized city near Boston, MA, the paper describes associations which choose to act (i) in opposition to local government as a path towards parity in shared governance, and (ii) in parallel with but separate from local government as a way to influence that government. The author argues that when associations exercise their agency to choose when and how to work with government (and when not to), this preserves associational independence while at the same time allowing for beneficial forms of state-associational engagement.

Journal Article.  5239 words. 

Subjects: Development Studies ; Public Policy ; Social Impact of Environmental Issues (Environmental Science) ; Development Planning and Policy

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