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Challenging governance theoryFrom networks to hegemony$
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Jonathan S. Davies

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781847426154

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847426154.001.0001

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The limits of network governance

The limits of network governance

Three The limits of network governance
Challenging governance theory

Jonathan S. Davies

Policy Press

This chapter discusses the development of the critique of the network governance theory, exploring the avalanche of literatures suggesting that state-market-civil society networks are ‘governance as usual’. Governance networks often turn out to be the same kinds of institutions as those they were meant to transcend, replicating hierarchies, exclusions, and inequalities and arguably aggravating endemic distrust. This chapter draws on a range of critical literatures in arguing that network governance is probably rare and highly vulnerable to being swamped by the hierarchical, inequitable, and instrumental practices it was meant to transcend. The latter part of the chapter explores the strengths and weaknesses of the Foucauldian account as a critical perspective from within the post-traditional milieu itself, arguing that despite its undoubted potency, it is undermined by scepticism towards structure and the consequent failure to recognise the role of the capitalist state as an agent of both governmentality and coercive power.

Keywords:   governance, governance networks, networks, capitalism, civil society

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