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Remaking governancePeoples, politics and the public sphere$

Janet Newman

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9781861346407

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781861346407.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Remaking governance

Janet Newman

Policy Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses the remaking of peoples and publics, both as the object of governance and also as the subjects of new forms of agency. It views the social as something defined by its ‘otherness’ to the state and economy, as an entity to be governed, a resource to be mobilised, or the site of social reproduction. It emphasises ways in which new governance relationships and practices may reshape patterns of identity and belonging. It focuses on the remaking of the contested boundary between public and private domains of responsibility and activity, as European welfare states reconfigure benefit entitlements and services. It examines how notions such as ‘the people’, ‘citizenship’, or ‘community’ are being reconstituted in an attempt to form new social settlements that are supposedly suited to the requirements of globalisation.

Keywords:   identity, publics, governance, agency, social reproduction, state, economy, welfare states, citizenship, social settlements

‘Modernisation’, ‘globalisation’ and ‘privatisation’ are each terms that signal profound shifts in the process of governance. Across Western Europe governments are seeking to dismantle the contract between state and citizen that was inscribed in the social democratic welfare state and to build a more ‘modern’ contract based on responsibility and choice. Governmental power is both retreating – with state institutions being slimmed down, ‘hollowed out’, decentred and marketised – and expanding, reaching into more and more of citizens' personal lives: for example, their decisions about work, health and parenting. At the same time, actors – partnership groups, community organisations and citizens themselves – are being ‘empowered’ by those same policy reforms and new political spaces potentially opened up.

This dynamic – the remaking of peoples and publics as both the object of governance but also as the subjects of new forms of agency – forms a central focus of this book. It brings together a number of authors whose work is opening up critical forms of analysis and debate in social policy, public policy and political science. Originating as a way of capturing shifts in the character of political rule, governance as a concept has been stretched to encompass a range of different transformations, including the increasing emphasis on ‘governing the social’: drawing citizens and communities into the process of collaborative governance and constituting new forms of governable subject. However, governance theory tends to conceptualise the social through frameworks in which governance forms the primary analytical concept and the social a residual category. The social is viewed as something defined by its ‘otherness’ to the state and economy, as an entity to be governed, a resource to be mobilised or the site of social reproduction. The result tends to be a ‘thin’ conception of the social (Newman, 2004). In this book we draw on strands of social and cultural theory that view governance as meaning-making as well as institutional practice; that contest the image of the social actor as a rational resourcemaximising individual; and that offer critical perspectives on ways in which ‘the people’ who are to be governed and the ‘public’ domain of governmental activity are understood. We highlight ways in which new governance relationships and practices may reshape patterns of (p.2) identity and belonging. We focus on the remaking of the contested boundary between public and private domains of responsibility and activity, as European welfare states reconfigure benefit entitlements and services. We are interested in how notions such as ‘the people’, ‘citizenship’ or ‘community’ are being reconstituted in an attempt to form new social settlements that are supposedly suited to the requirements of globalisation. We are concerned with how ideas of the ‘active citizen’, ‘worker-citizen’ and ‘participating citizen’ are being shaped and enacted. Finally, we explore how questions of identity may be implicated in new governance forms and relationships; in particular the kinds of social and political imaginaries that may be opened up or closed down.

Themes and structure of the book


Two main strands of argument and analysis are developed in the chapters that follow:

  • the new formations of peoples, publics and politics that are produced in the remaking of governance. We begin with a focus on the contested constitution of ‘Europe’ as a governable entity and move through other spatialised or identity-based formations, interrogating the ways in which the boundaries of the public sphere are being redrawn and the implications of this for the sites and practices of politics;

  • the contradictory and contested process of remaking governance – a process which both produces new governable subjects and potentially opens up new sites of agency.

Here we begin by introducing our use of the three core concepts – peoples, publics and politics – and then go on to address how these and the contradictory dynamics of the process of remaking governance are reflected in the structure of the book. The second half of this Introduction traces the theoretical approaches that we draw upon in tracing the dynamics of remaking governance.

Remaking peoples

Notions of the people are usually associated with membership of a nation-state. This often ‘forgets’ or obscures the complex historical (p.3) struggles which took place in the formation of nationhood and the contested concepts of the people condensed into the boundaries of nationhood (Clarke, 2004). In the late 20th and early 21st centuries we can trace the ways in which the simple unities of nation-states, governments and peoples – although always problematic – have been challenged by the growing significance of transnational bodies such as the European Union (EU), the rise of regional or ethnic claims for self-determination and patterns of migration across national borders. Yet the shift of power from national governments is strongly contested. At the time of writing, the proposed EU constitution has been rejected by the citizens of France and the Netherlands, and new cleavages are opening up between ‘old’ and ‘new’ Europe. At the same time, the UK government has announced future plans for local government based on the idea of neighbourhood governance, extending the emphasis on ‘community’ and ‘partnership’ in its policy agenda. The governance regimes of the EU, nation-states and specific institutions or locales interact in a dynamic way, as struggles take place over the boundaries of the ‘people’ as both an object and resource of governance.

Remaking publics

The constitution of peoples as unities forms the basis for collective forms of social welfare and a common public domain of action. We use the idea of ‘the public’ to denote the sphere of activity that is assumed to be a collective responsibility (rather than the personal responsibility of households or individuals, or subject to the logics of the market). These distinctions between ‘public’, ‘private’ and ‘personal’ domains are being redrawn as a result of the modernisation of welfare states, in which governments are expanding their enabling, regulating and coordinating activities while reducing their role as the direct provider of public services. Network governance tends to dissolve or obscure the distinctions between public and private sectors and the emphasis on collaborative governance fudges the boundary between what issues are considered to be the domain of collective public responsibility (and thus subject to the formal processes of politics and policy) and what are the responsibilities of individuals, families and households.

The remaking of governance also has consequences for the ways in which citizens are constituted as actors in the public sphere. We can trace the emergence of new categories of social citizenship: the active citizen, participating citizen, responsible citizen, the citizen-consumer, the worker-citizen and others. In the process we can see how citizenship (p.4) is undergoing a transformation from a supposedly passive (rightsbearing) to a more active (performing) subject, taking on new responsibilities as the public/private/personal boundaries are reconfigured. Like the public/private distinction itself, such conceptions are, of course, profoundly gendered and racialised and the potential source of new forms of inclusion and exclusion into notions of ‘the people’.

Remaking politics

Governance “speaks to important political transformations of our time. As a field that is always in flux, politics threatens to escape the terms we have to comprehend it” (Walters, 2004, p 31). Governance theory offers an account of the dispersal of power beyond and within the state, undermining the privileged place of representative democracy as the means of channelling citizen interests and legitimising governmental actions. The image of a hierarchical relationship between state and citizen – with the state above and beyond the reach of the citizenry – is displaced by the idea of multiple parallel spaces in which power is encountered and negotiated. This dispersal of state power opens up new ways in which citizens can engage in the politics of localities and regions and participate in ‘project politics’ on specific issues. At the same time, the remaking of the public sphere recasts definitions of what counts as ‘political’ and what is identified as merely a question of ‘good governance’.

The remaking of peoples also has profound implications for the practice of politics. For example, the development of the EU as a policymaking and legislative body opens up the question of the extent to which Europe constitutes a transnational public sphere in which citizens can debate and participate: a shared space of public communication with institutional support for the expression of interests (Scharpf, 1999). Many writers point to a democratic deficit at the core of the legitimacy problems of the EU, a deficit that is attributed not only to the institutional weakness of the European Parliament but also to the limited Europeanisation of public discourse in comparison with nation-states (Peters et al, 2005). Within nation-states, too, the growing importance of network and collaborative forms of governance brings into question the centrality and authority of representative institutions. At the same time, ‘community’ is emerging as both a site of governmental intervention and participation in the public sphere (see Sterling in Chapter Seven of this volume).

However, the remaking of governance is not just concerned with (p.5) institutions and policies. Walters uses the concept of ‘political imaginary’ to direct attention to “the scale and space of social thought” (2002, p 381). In this volume the term political imaginary is used to denote how we imagine the spaces through which we engage with political power and the selves that we bring to that engagement.

Structure of the book

Chapters One, Two and Three are concerned primarily with the dynamics of remaking peoples as an object of governance and the consequences for the policy process, focusing on ‘Europe’ as a contested social and political unity. John Clarke begins by analysing European governance both as the management of difference and the expression of coherence in the form of an imagined unity. The borders and boundaries of this unity are the site of political contestation around our understanding of the people who are the subjects of governance strategies and policy interventions. In Chapter Two, Emma Carmel explores the attempt to bring a ‘European’ social into being through the ways in which the EU engages with social policy issues. She traces the ways in which formal policy goals and governance processes interact to delineate the limits of the social, noting a number of ambiguities and tensions around the form that the social should take. In Chapter Three, Noémi Lendvai recounts the experience of ‘joining’ Europe from the perspective of one of the Accession Countries, Hungary, as it encounters and attempts to interpret the governance strategies of the EU. Across each of these chapters the importance of understanding new forms and relationships of power can be traced – both institutional (for example, the powers of the EU as a legislative or policymaking body) and cultural (the power of new discourses to constitute ideas of ‘modern’ European states and peoples fitted for a globalised world).

Chapters Four and Five are concerned with the dynamics of remaking publics and the public sphere through new strategies of social and welfare governance (a topic introduced in Chapter Two on European social policy). The modernisation of welfare states redraws the boundary between public (the domain of collective responsibility for welfare) and private (the domain of market relationships and services). This boundary is one which has been the focus of feminist debates and critiques, and in Chapter Four Janet Newman provides a gendered analysis of the changing relationships between state, market, networks and self-governance as domains of governance. She notes in particular how ‘networks’ open up new questions about gender and gendered work and highlights the significance of issues of identity (p.6) and agency in welfare governance. In Chapter Five, Håkan Johansson and Bjørn Hvinden highlight the pressures ‘from above’ and ‘from below’ that are shaping the transformation of welfare states and outline the dynamic relationship between the different conceptions of citizenship that are produced in these transformations. They contrast the different forms of citizenship that are implicated in the modernisation of welfare states – liberal, libertarian and republican – and capture the tensions between the active and passive dimensions of each. In doing so they trace the ways in which social policy reforms not only constrain social actors, subjecting them to new forms of governance and new technologies of power, but also open up the possibility of new forms and sites of social agency.

This theme is taken up in Chapters Six to Nine, whose primary concern is with the dynamics of remaking politics. The idea of active citizenship discussed in Chapters Four and Five is not only associated with labour market activation, it is also linked to a redrawing of state–citizen relationships through new collaborative governance strategies. In Chapter Six, Janet Newman highlights the significance of public participation as a strategy which invites citizens to collaborate with state and non-state actors in shaping public policy or taking decisions on public services. She traces the ways in which the public domain of participation and deliberation is produced and reproduced, opening up questions of public and private to critical scrutiny. She also traces the contradictory implications of the new technologies of power associated with participation and collaboration. These arguments are developed further in Chapters Seven and Eight, both of which assess the potential of collaborative or participative governance to produce new forms of political imaginary and agency. In Chapter Seven, Rebekah Sterling argues that the emergence of partnership working as a key governmental strategy reflects a complex intersection of governance trends. These have paradoxical implications for democracy: while not intrinsically democratic and offering very circumscribed opportunities for public participation, partnerships have the potential to draw citizens into new domains of power. Chapter Eight highlights the importance of studying informal, as well as state-sponsored, forms of democratic participation. Henrik Bang addresses the problems of individuation and the decoupling of states from citizens, but argues that governance strategies designed to enhance social capital have resulted in a growing division between what he terms ‘expert citizens’ and ‘everyday makers’. In Chapter Nine, Michael Saward explores the new spaces and places in which political representation happens in (p.7) the fragmented fields of power of network governance, analysing the significance of new kinds of representative claims.

The Conclusion reviews the contribution of the book to theorising the remaking of governance both in terms of the constitution of new governable subjects and new sites and possibilities of social agency. Here, it is argued that governance shifts are profoundly political in that they reshape the public realm of welfare-state provision and redraw citizenship rights and responsibilities. They offer new ways of conceptualising the ‘people’ around imaginary unities of interest or identity. They create new patterns of inclusion and exclusion. But they also open up the possibility of changing the terrain of political engagement and action. Rather than a view of politics as separate from society, the book suggests a politics of the social. It explores how new strategies of governance rest on cultural projects concerned with reconstituting peoples and publics as governable entities, while also holding on to the idea that these cultural projects are subject to contestation, struggle and dissent. In doing so it engages in a process of rethinking key concepts – ‘states’, ‘citizens’, ‘democracy’, ‘representation’, ‘participation’, and so on – in a way that we hope enriches them.

The dynamics of remaking governance

The term ‘dynamics’ has appeared frequently in setting out the themes of the book, serving as something of a shorthand way of talking about one of the book's central preoccupations. We set out not to describe large-scale, generalising processes of change – the emergence of the EU as a transnational tier of governance, the rise of network-based patterns of coordination, the emergence of new governmentalities that constitute the ‘empowered’ citizen, and so on. This has been done extensively elsewhere. Rather, we focus on teasing out the dynamics of remaking governance, theorising the instabilities and contradictions that may be produced in the process of reform. As such, we engage critically with those political science and social policy traditions that assume a universal – and universalising – narrative of change. In what follows, four such narratives and our response to them are highlighted:

  • the shift from government to networked, multi-level processes of governance;

  • the process of welfare-state transformation in response to globalising pressures;

  • (p.8) the development of new technologies of power through which the subjects of governance are constituted;

  • the emergence of collaborative governance.

From government to governance?

What Rhodes (2000) calls the “governance narrative” provides an account of how hierarchical government has given way to a differentiated polity characterised by network-based processes of coordination. This opens up important questions about institutional change and new forms of political power. The emergence of networkbased patterns of coordination, whether informal or in more formally inscribed partnership bodies, implies a shift in governmental power towards the use of influencing and enabling strategies rather than direct authority. The idea of a shift from government to governance provides the context for a number of the shifts that we trace. Here I set out a number of critiques of the governance narrative that form the starting points for the analyses which follow (for further discussion, see the reviews in Newman, 2001; Walters, 2004).

The first critique centres on the notion of a decentring of state power. I argue that, in emphasising the ‘hollowing-out’ of the nationstate and the demise of authority as a means of governing, the governance literature both ignores the continuing role of national governments in exercising coercive forms of power and underestimates the significance of the role of the state in ‘metagovernance’ – setting the rules of the game within which networks operate and steering the overall process of coordination (Jessop, 2000; Kooiman, 2000). Although the shift to networks and ‘enabling’ policy approaches may be evident in many areas of social and public policy, there is still plenty of governing (in the form of direct control by states) in evidence. Despite the importance of the EU's attempts to reshape policy, the nation-state still serves as a political entity which takes the primary role in (re)distributing resources and delivering social protection for citizens (see Chapters Two and Three of this volume). The ‘hollowing-out’ thesis also tends to flatten differences between nations, ignoring differences between strong and weak states, Eastern and Western Europe and different national welfare regimes.

The second critique centres on its depiction of change as unidirectional (from ‘government’ to ‘governance’) and as simple, rather than compound. The contributors to this volume have attempted to capture some of the more subtle and complex – and often contradictory – dynamics involved in these processes of change. This is particularly (p.9) evident in our approach to understanding ‘multi-level’ governance, a concept that draws attention to the vertical interface between transnational bodies such as the EU, the nation-state and so-called ‘sub-national’ tiers of governance. Such a reading of change focuses attention on the institutions of governance: the redistribution of power and resources between ‘levels’, the processes of negotiation among actors and the outcomes in terms of institutional adaptation or path dependency. A rather different reading – and the one with which we are concerned with in this book – emphasises the shifting practices of governance that cut across different scalar levels: the emphasis on partnership and collaboration (Chapters Six and Seven), or the more fundamental ‘modernisation’ of welfare governance and the recasting of concepts of citizenship that it produces (Chapters Four and Five). This is not to say that such processes are uniform or produce equivalent outcomes. The literature on comparative social policy provides a rich repertoire of conceptual tools for understanding difference as well as similarity, divergence as well as convergence, among nation-states. But such realignments produce shifts in governing practices and power relations and not just a reorganisation of scale; that is, it influences the how and who of governance as well as the where.

The third critique is that the idea of multilevel governance tends to focus on the institutional rather than cultural dimensions of change: the interaction between EU institutions and national governments, between the nation-state and the dispersed array of institutions acting on its behalf, and so on. In this book, we focus on the cultural constructions of ‘levels’ and the policy ideas that flow across, between and within them. John Clarke, Emma Carmel and Noémi Lendvai explore, in different ways, the struggle to establish Europe itself. This is not just a question of political negotiations between the EU and nation-states. As John Clarke argues in Chapter One: “Constituting Europe is a process of spatial construction … the ‘borders’ of Europe are not merely mapping the external boundaries of Europe: they are inscribed – and contested – within.” In Chapter Seven, Rebekah Sterling notes three different governance trends that are condensed in governance through partnership – the drive towards integration and collaboration; the reconfiguration of governance around territory; and the renewed emphasis on ‘bottom-up’ processes that stress participation and community. Each, she argues, has its own internal tensions and, as they converge, may produce points of conflict as well as synergy.

Finally, the governance narrative is derived from a Western European – especially British – account of change. It is by no means the only way of describing the ‘remaking’ of governing institutions, including (p.10) the institutions of the nation-state. Noémi Lendvai's chapter illuminates what happens when states already experiencing the transition from communist control engage in another set of transformations as Accession Countries to the EU, an EU that is itself undergoing major change. As a result of enlargement, this ‘double dynamic’ suggests a much more troubled and unsettled process of change. The experience of Eastern Europe also brings into question the salience of theories developed in ‘strong state’ countries – especially the UK – for other contexts.

The modernisation of welfare governance

The social policy account of the modernisation or transformation of welfare states intersects with the governance narrative described above, in that both view change as deriving from or determined by the ‘new realities’ of globalisation and the rise of neo-liberal economic pressures. However, the impact of globalisation on welfare governance has been widely debated and the arguments of Gough (2000), Clarke (2004) and others suggest that contemporary changes in welfare governance are not simply the results of either pressure from above (where the external pressures of globalisation, mediated through supranational bodies such as the EU or World Bank, produce new governance strategies), or pressures from below (as a product of changes in citizen capabilities and demands, the individuation of society, more consumerist orientation, and so on). Rather, as Håkan Johansson and Bjørn Hvinden argue in Chapter Five, these dynamics must be captured as mutually reinforcing processes. Nevertheless the idea of globalisation has had a profound impact on the assumptions underpinning welfare reform (Hobson et al, 2002), producing the instrumental approach to welfare discussed in Chapter Three, the processes of commodification and decommodification highlighted in Chapter Four, the activation policies outlined in Chapter Five and a range of emerging European policies on employment, pensions and welfare benefits discussed in Chapters Two and Three.

The discourse of modernisation underpinning the transformation of welfare states draws its legitimacy from a number of narratives about the poverty of ‘old’ ideas for ‘new’ times. Both academic writings and policy texts trace the new global realities in which states must operate and set out the need to challenge ‘outdated’ assumptions about universal access to social protection schemes or rights-based notions of citizenship. But this is not just situated in supposedly ‘external’ forces such as globalisation. The work of Giddens (1998) and others argues (p.11) that the fabric of societies has been transformed as the old solidarities of class, community, family and nation have been weakened and as people have become more individuated and consumerist, producing new patterns of social risks, needs and demands. These ideas have been appropriated readily in policy texts and political speeches and inform a number of shifts in the public sphere, for example the idea of the ‘worker-citizen’ around which gender relations are being reformed (Chapter Four) and the ‘active citizen’ subject of modernising welfare states (Chapter Five).

This means that it is important to trace the delineation of new policy paradigms and the assumptions that they make about the changing character of social issues and problems as well as economic imperatives. However, these shifting paradigms may contain internal contradictions or lines of tension. The dominant focus in EU policy is on flexible labour markets and competitiveness. But this is overlaid on a subordinate narrative on work–life balance, parental leave and increased state funding of childcare. The tensions between these different paradigms might be conceptualised as a tension between an ‘efficiency’-oriented approach to state welfare, in which the role of the state as a provider is minimised, and a ‘social investment’ approach, in which the state acts as an enabler in order to improve the stock of human capital through training and personal development strategies and thus to equip the future workforce for the demands of a globalised economy. Such policies may be in tension with those designed to improve social capital through the citizen involvement and community participation strategies discussed by Janet Newman in Chapter Six, Rebekah Sterling in Chapter Seven and Henrik Bang in Chapter Eight.

Technologies of power

It is one thing for policies to set out new conceptions of citizenship and community, responsibilities and relationships. It is another for these to be realised in social action. One way of accomplishing this is through the steering or ‘meta-governance’ role of the state as it attempts to coordinate a dispersed array of network and partnership arrangements or deploy its powers to shape new governance practices (Jessop, 2002; Kooiman, 2003). In terms of welfare governance, coercive policy instruments may be deployed – for example, changing the criteria which enable people to claim welfare or work-related benefits and access state-funded services. However, steering or coercive strategies may fail to bring about the cultural shifts that governments desire: that (p.12) is, the shifts in who people think they are, how they should relate to each other, what they can legitimately expect from the state and what the state can legitimately expect from them in return. The fostering of new identities, relationships, expectations and aspirations is accomplished – with more or less success – through new technologies of power.

Such an approach displaces, or decentres, government and/or the state within the analysis by insisting that governing takes place through multiple agencies, relations and practices (Dean, 1999; Petersen et al, 1999; Rose, 1999; Larner and Walters, 2004; Marston, 2004). Rather than the reduction of government promised by neo-liberal regimes, such changes can be understood as the dispersal of governmental power across new sites of action. Rose (1999) argues that what are termed ‘advanced liberal’ societies construct new forms of governance (or governmentalities) that draw apparently empowered subjects into new fields of power based on autonomy coupled with responsibility. Here, governance takes place through a range of strategies and technologies – directed towards what Foucault (1991) terms the “conduct of conduct”. This kind of approach is one that Emma Carmel draws upon when, in Chapter Two, she defines governance as “historically contingent ensembles of practices and procedures” that are capable of making some forms of activity thinkable and practicable both to its practitioners and those upon whom it is practised. Rather than debating whether the power of the state has been ‘hollowed-out’, the approach directs attention to the kinds of knowledge and power through which social activity is regulated and through which actors – citizens, workers, organisations – are constituted as self-disciplining subjects.

As such, post-structuralist theory provides a sharp contrast with the normative view of networks as the preferred mode of governance, capable of overcoming the disbenefits of both market and hierarchy; or of welfare governance reform as simply a response to new social risks or citizen expectations. The view of power as productive also presents an important challenge to ideas of the empowered subject in new governance regimes: the ways in which state practices of empowerment – of actors to participate in decision-making, of citizens to be responsible for their own health decisions, or households for the provision of their own welfare needs – might be understood, rather, as new strategies of regulation and control. Many of the chapters in this volume trace the constitution of new forms of governable subject: the degendered active citizen, participating in society through work (Chapters Four and Five); the construction of specific populations through public participation strategies (Chapters Six and Eight); or of (p.13) communities taking responsibility for solving their own problems (Chapter Seven). Indeed, as is argued in Chapter Four, social policy reforms are often introduced in ways that assume that new modes of citizenship – for example, the individuated, adult worker freed from the ties of family or community and ready to take their place in the global, flexible labour market – already exist.

However, we might also highlight some problems in the governmental approach. First, some forms of post-structural work on governmentality tend to produce an over-simplistic view of change in which ‘old’ forms of governing are displaced by new forms of power. Rather, new discourses draw on and rework older understandings into new configurations. For example, Johansson and Hvinden note that:

Whether the forms of active citizenship are ‘new’ in a strict sense is debatable. They may represent a return to ideals or principles present in earlier stages in the history of the welfare state in question, principles which were later marginalised or eroded in the face of competing ideologies. (Chapter Five)

Second, new governmental strategies do not necessarily present coherent rationalities (Rose, 1999). This lack of coherence means that the assemblages may embody internal contradictions and points of fracture. For example, in this volume we trace several different sets of ideas about ‘active’ citizenship – workforce activation, community activation, active participatory citizenship, active consumerism – which do not necessarily ‘hang together’ and may exist in tension with one other. General theories of the constitutive power of discourse fail to capture the complexity and diversity of the ways in which conceptions of the public are negotiated and remade.

In Remaking governance, then, we trace how large-scale social, political and cultural changes are being enacted. But we are careful to avoid any suggestion of a simple narrative in which old ideas, practices and institutions have been supplanted. Our approach is one that does not assume the effectivity of new discourses of welfare governance, citizenship or democracy, but that attempts to unpick what happens as different ideas and pathways of change intersect and as new discourses confront and interact with older ideas. This means that our understanding of the remaking of governance is one of compound, contested and unstable social and political formations. We also want to avoid any suggestion that these processes are universal, taking the same (p.14) form across different nation-states. The ‘social’ of social governance is shaped by and through the specific histories of particular cultures and places. The ‘everyday maker’ described by Henrik Bang in Chapter Eight is deeply rooted in the traditions of Danish democratic practice, while the successful embedding of the consumerist discourse in the UK is unsurprising, given its place in the rolling out of neo-liberalism. There is a need, then, to pay attention to the specificity of how new governmental discourses are elaborated within different national formations and the ways in which they draw upon, and are articulated with, existing cultural resources. This does not set out to be a comparative book, but it offers a number of analytical frameworks which might contribute to the work of tracing the dynamics of remaking governance in different locations. We do so by embracing both ‘cultural’ and ‘institutional’ ways of understanding governance, since we believe that this forms a productive site of intersection and theoretical development.


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