Special Issue "Civic Enterprises, the Co-Production of Public Governance and the Prospects for Democratic Renewal in Europe"

A special issue of Social Sciences (ISSN 2076-0760).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 September 2018)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Hendrik Wagenaar

International School of Government Policy Institute, King’s College London, Virginia Woolf Building 22 Kings, London, UK
Website | E-Mail
Interests: participatory democracy; governance; deliberative democracy; practice theory
Guest Editor
Dr. Jurgen van der Heijden

AT Osborne JF Kennedylaan, 1003741 EH Baarn, The Netherlands
Website | E-Mail
Interests: civic initiative; participative and representative democracy; neighborhood economy; multipurpose spatial development

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The aim of this proposed Special Issue is to relate three phenomena in the contemporary social and administrative landscape: the rapid emergence of civic enterprises in many European countries, the popularity among public officials of co-producing governance with affected groups and organizations, and the necessity of deepening liberal electoral democracy in the face of widespread popular discontent. While each of these phenomena has been studied separately, few attempts have been made to relate them conceptually with the aim of advancing a theory of administrative and democratic modernization through participatory forms of governance.

In the present economic and policy climate in Europe, there is both a demand and an opportunity for community initiatives and civic enterprises to develop alternative ways of promoting development and delivering services on a significant scale (Wagenaar and van der Heijden 2015; Wagenaar and Healey, 2015). In Europe, our experience is of a public sector which is increasingly financially-starved and fragmented, driven by the commercialization of essential services and narrow ‘new public management’ performance criteria. As a result, all kinds of gaps and failures of provision are experienced, while contracting to the private sector is delivering erratic, mass-produced, and often low-quality service provision. Many community initiatives have arisen in response to a sense of neglect by the agencies of formal government. But community initiatives are not just about ‘gap-filling’ activity, stepping into a widening breach. They may also become a site of innovation and experimentation with new forms of organization, financing and governance (van der Heijden, 2010; Moulaert et al. 2013; Sanchez Bajo and Roelants, 2013). There is an urgent need to find alternative pathways to producing and delivering valued social products and services, focused on people and the environment, not profit. Some initiatives deliberately challenge the mid-twentieth century top-down models of state delivery, or the neo-liberal agenda of market delivery. Others, as they develop a particular focus and way of doing things, come to challenge established practices.  As Moulaert et al. (2013) and Wagenaar and van der Heijden (2015) argue, community initiatives also have significant innovative potential in promoting more democratic governance forms. Citizens and residents find themselves drawn into policy-making as well as practical delivery, linking policy and action in a much more intimate way than is common in standard models of ‘public participation’ in formal planning processes. Such activity is more comparable to “public work” (Boyte, 2004) or community development practices (Gilchrist 2009). New organizational and democratic forms originate in the public sphere, with interactive and associational forms that are characteristic of it. Thus, they speak to traditional elite-driven democratic institutions, holding out the potential for a more plural democratic sphere.

Administrative modernization has been attractive to politicians and officials since time immemorial. The announcement of administrative innovation is a sure-proof way for every official to distinguish himself positively from his predecessors (Margetts, 2010, 19). Yet underneath the rhetorical drive for public innovation are real challenges originating in rapid social, technological, economic or cultural change. Administrative modernization aims at greater economic efficiency, increased integration and interconnectedness, the advancement and integration of scientific/technological knowledge and expertise in public administration (Margetts, 2010, 26–27), and the improvement of the government’s responsiveness and legitimacy (Held, 1996).  After the separation of politics and administration and the advent of rationalized bureaucracies at the turn of the 20th century, and the emulation of business-oriented management techniques, performance management and the privatization of public services in New Public Management since the 1980s, we are now witnessing a third wave of administrative reform: the rise of co-production of governance.  Co-production is a broad term that covers such varied innovations as governance-driven democratization (Warren, 2014), collaborative governance (Ansell and Gash, 2008; Innes and Booher, 2010; Bourgon, 2011) and various forms of interactive governance (Edelenbos and van Meerkerk, 2016). They all have in common that they are government-instigated, institutionally anchored, deliberately designed attempts to include a variety of stakeholders into the governance and administration of societal issues. Co-production is generally seen as a response to the challenge of “pluralized ungovernability” (Warren, 2014).  Pluralized ungovernability is the result of a cascade of trends in contemporary society such as technical and political complexity, high levels of cultural diversity, the postmodernization of culture and decreasing deference to authority, the mismatch of issues and territories that disrupt the links of democratic representation, the influence of large corporations over government, the privatization of the public sector, a dense landscape of (social) media, and the associational capacity of civil society (Warren, 2014; Kooiman, 2016; Wagenaar, 2007; Wagenaar, 2016).

Comparative survey research shows that while support for the democratic political system has not eroded consistently, satisfaction with the performance of democracy continues to diverge from citizens’ political aspirations (Norris, 2011). This makes the state of governance central to the democratic deficit. Liberal electoral democracy in its contemporary form purports to reconcile democratic legitimacy with minimal public participation. In opposition to this stands a conception of democracy that promotes citizen participation in public affairs as an essential means to the development of democratic capacities (Dewey, 1954; Bachrach, 1967; Macpherson, 1977; Warren, 2001). In such a fuller conception of democracy, the civic sphere is a source of renewal and improvement. The civic sphere is more than just civil society. The civic sphere is 1) an autonomous, solidary societal realm, distinct from state and market, constituted by relations, associations, interactions and norms, the most important of which is mutual obligation. 2) In this realm, actors address collective problems, resolve conflict, negotiate boundary tensions, and arrive at collective judgments in direct interactions among equals. Through these interactions which are 3) open, governed by mutual respect, informed, direct, and often face-to-face, issues 4) that are traditionally monopolized by political and administrative elites become subject to democratic deliberation, independent collective judgment and direct action. In addition, 5) citizens organize themselves in associations, to 6) protest, resist and subvert, but also design and try out creative solutions, grounded in informal, everyday experiences (Alexander, 2006; Boyte, 2004). Whilst the political sphere is governed by political rationality, the market by shareholder value, and the administrative sphere by bureaucratic reason, the civic sphere is ruled by communicative rationality that proceeds through public reasoning and collective judgment (Alexander, 2006). The great challenge for democracy today is to connect the associations, deliberations, identities and practices of the civic sphere to the political and bureaucratic processes of the political–administrative–corporate complex, to attain a morally substantive form of democracy with enhanced franchise, scope and authenticity.

We welcome contributions that, empirically and/or conceptually, speak to the central challenge formulated above, and relate at least two of the three above-described themes of the emergence of civic enterprises, the co-production of governance with affected groups and organizations, and the deepening of liberal electoral democracy. We are aware that the cluster of issues that form the thematics of this Special Issue occupy the interface of science and administrative innovation. We therefore also welcome contributions from non-academic actors, such as social entrepreneurs, officials and professionals, who actively contribute to innovation in public governance.

References:

Alexander, J. C. (2006) The Civil Sphere, Oxford University Press

(Ansell and Gash 2008) Ansell, C. K., and A. Gash. 2008. Collaborative governance in theory and practice. Journal of Public Administration Theory and Practice 18: 543–71.

Bachrach, P. (1967), The Theory of Democratic Elitism: A Critique, University of London Press.

Bourgon, J. (2011), A New Synthesis of Public Administration. Serving in the 21st Century, Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press.

Boyte, H.C. (2004) Everyday Politics. Reconnecting Citizens and Public Life, Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Dewey, J. (1954 (1927)), The Public and its Problems, Athens, OH: Ohio University Press.

Edelenbos, J. and van Meerkerk, I. (eds.) (2016) Critical Reflections on Interactive Governance. Self-Organization and participation in Public Governance, Cheltenham, Glos: Edward Elgar

Gilchrist, A. (2009). The well-connected community: A networking approach to community development.
Bristol: Polity Press.

Held, D. (1996) Models of Democracy, Cambridge: Polity (2nd edition).

Kooiman, J. (2016), “Interactive Governance and Goevrnability”, in J. Edelenbos, and I. van Meerkerk, (eds.) (2016) Critical Reflections on Interactive Governance. Self-Organization and participation in Public Governance, Cheltenham, Glos: Edward Elgar, pp. 29-51.

Macpherson, C.B. (1977), The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Margetts, H. (2010), “Modernization Dreams and Public Policy Reform”, in H. Margetts, Perri 6 and C. Hood (eds.) Paradoxes of Modernization. Unintended Consequences of Public Policy Reform, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 17-44.

Moulaert, F., MacCallum, D., Mehmod, A. and Hamdouch, A. (eds.) The International Handbook on Social Innovation, Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, Sanchez Bajo, C. and Roelants, B. (2013), Capital and the Debt Trap. Learning from Cooperatives in the Global Crisis, Palgrave Macmillan.

Wagenaar, H. (2007), “Governance, Complexity and Democratic Participation: How citizens and public officials harness the complexities of neighbourhood decline”, American Review of Public Administration, 37, 1: 17-50.

Wagenaar, H and van der Heijden, J. (2015), “The Promise of Democracy? Civic Enterprise, Localism and the Transformation of Democratic Capitalism”, In: A. Madanipour, and S. Davoudi, Reconsidering Localism, London: Routledge, 126-146.

Wagenaar, H. (2016) “Democratic Transfer: Everyday Neoliberalism, Hegemony and the Prospects for Democratic Renewal”, in J. Edelenbos, and I. van Meerkerk, (eds.) (2016) Critical Reflections on Interactive Governance. Self-Organization and participation in Public Governance, Cheltenham, Glos: Edward Elgar, pp. 93-120

Wagenaar, H. and P. Healey (2015), ‘The Transformative Potential of Civic Enterprise’, Planning Theory and Practice, 16 (4), 557–60.

Warren, M.E., (2001), Democracy and Association, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Warren, M.E., (2014), Governance-Driven Democratization, in S. Griggs, A. Norval, and H. Wagenaar H. (eds.) Practices of Freedom: Democracy, Conflict and Participation in Decentred Governance, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 38-60.

Dr. Hendrik Wagenaar
Dr. Jurgen van der Heijden
Guest Editor


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Keywords

  • civic initiative
  • the civil sphere
  • administrative modernisation
  • co-producing governance
  • social innovation
  • complexity
  • democratic deficit
  • democratic innovation

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Integrated Public Value Creation through Community Initiatives—Evidence from Dutch Water Management
Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(12), 261; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7120261
Received: 8 October 2018 / Revised: 29 November 2018 / Accepted: 4 December 2018 / Published: 10 December 2018
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Abstract
Governments are increasingly challenged by self-organizing community initiatives that seek to contribute to or even take the lead in public value creation. The reason for citizen-led instead of government-led public value creation is part of two larger governance trends. The first is the
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Governments are increasingly challenged by self-organizing community initiatives that seek to contribute to or even take the lead in public value creation. The reason for citizen-led instead of government-led public value creation is part of two larger governance trends. The first is the increased specialized, mission-oriented approach to large social challenges by government agencies. The second trend is the increased emphasis on accountability, productivity, and efficiency, following the New Public Management philosophy. As a response to these trends, community initiatives challenge the usual mechanisms, principles, and practices of government agencies. These initiatives are characterized by more integrated and inclusive approaches for dealing with societal problems. In turn, government agencies struggle with the way they can organize productive responses to the initiatives communities take in creating public value. In this study, we explore the rationales behind processes of public value creation in which communities take the lead. We explored these processes in Dutch water management. In this highly functionally specialized domain, we compared two cases in which communities take on leadership for integrated initiatives, including other societal functions and tasks adjacent to water management. Full article
Open AccessArticle Citizen Initiatives in the Post-Welfare State
Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(12), 252; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7120252
Received: 27 September 2018 / Revised: 15 November 2018 / Accepted: 26 November 2018 / Published: 30 November 2018
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Abstract
Recently we have seen the emergence of citizen-led community initiatives and civic enterprises, taking over governmental tasks in providing public services in various sectors, such as energy, care, landscape maintenance, and culture. This phenomenon can be explained by a renewed interest in community,
[...] Read more.
Recently we have seen the emergence of citizen-led community initiatives and civic enterprises, taking over governmental tasks in providing public services in various sectors, such as energy, care, landscape maintenance, and culture. This phenomenon can be explained by a renewed interest in community, place, and ‘local identity’; the erosion of the welfare state; the privatization of public services; a re-emergence of the social economy; and tensions between ‘bottom-up’ initiatives and the changing role of the state. The co-production of governments and initiatives can potentially result in a shift from government-led to community-led planning. This, however, raises questions about their innovative potential, the democratic consequences, and the potential roles of governments in enabling these societal dynamics. This article discusses these issues theoretically, illustrated with empirical examples from Portugal, the Netherlands, and Wales, in a context of uncertainty regarding the future of the traditional European welfare state. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Deepening and Connecting Democratic Processes. The Opportunities and Pitfalls of Mini-Publics in Renewing Democracy
Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(11), 236; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7110236
Received: 20 September 2018 / Revised: 8 November 2018 / Accepted: 13 November 2018 / Published: 15 November 2018
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Abstract
In recent decades, so-called “mini-publics” have been organized in many countries to renew policy making and democracy. One characteristic of mini-publics is that the selection of the participants is based on random sampling or sortition. This gives each member of the community an
[...] Read more.
In recent decades, so-called “mini-publics” have been organized in many countries to renew policy making and democracy. One characteristic of mini-publics is that the selection of the participants is based on random sampling or sortition. This gives each member of the community an equal chance of being selected. Another feature is that deliberation forms the core of the process of how proposals are developed. In this paper, we investigate the possibilities and challenges of sortition and deliberation in the context of the call for a deepening of democracy and more citizen engagement in policy making. Based on extensive research on citizens’ forums (G1000) in The Netherlands, we show the potential of mini-publics, but a number of shortcomings as well. Some of these are related to the specific design of the G1000, while others are of a more fundamental nature and are due to the contradictory democratic values that deliberative mini-publics try to combine. One of these concerns the tension between the quality of deliberation and political impact. We conclude that combining institutional approaches could be a way out to deal with these tensions and a step forward to both deepen and connect democratic processes. Full article
Open AccessArticle Promises and Failures of the Cooperative Food Retail System in Italy
Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(11), 232; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7110232
Received: 11 September 2018 / Revised: 15 October 2018 / Accepted: 5 November 2018 / Published: 12 November 2018
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Abstract
The food market is experiencing a period of deep tensions between farmers, food companies, and retailers across the world. This is particularly true in Italy, a Mediterranean country with a strong agricultural tradition and a great interest in the food market. The largest
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The food market is experiencing a period of deep tensions between farmers, food companies, and retailers across the world. This is particularly true in Italy, a Mediterranean country with a strong agricultural tradition and a great interest in the food market. The largest market weight in terms of food retail in Italy is held by national chains linked to the cooperative movement (Coop and Conad) that has promised to ensure more collaborative and less imbalanced relationships between producers and distributors, along with a stronger connection to the territory and socially responsible corporate management. The Coop is currently the biggest cooperative in Italy. Its increasing power in the Italian food retail system has caused it to behave like an oligopoly that has exploited its proximity to left-wing parties to obtain an advantageous position in some markets (ex: Emilia, Liguria, etc.). Equally alarming is a growing financialization which has led to the bankruptcy of CoopCa and Coop Operaie of Trieste, affecting approximately 20,000 investors. The recent crisis in food retail is redirecting firms’ strategies and producing new forms of food distribution such as Alternative Food Networks that are trying to restore the mission and values of the old consumer cooperatives. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Away from Politics? Trajectories of Italian Third Sector after the 2008 Crisis
Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(11), 228; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7110228
Received: 3 September 2018 / Revised: 27 October 2018 / Accepted: 5 November 2018 / Published: 9 November 2018
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Abstract
In modern democracies, nonprofit organizations and social enterprises have a relevant political role that may be threatened by the entry into the market of services. This risk increases in time of economic crisis, when the competition grows stronger and the economic needs become
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In modern democracies, nonprofit organizations and social enterprises have a relevant political role that may be threatened by the entry into the market of services. This risk increases in time of economic crisis, when the competition grows stronger and the economic needs become more urgent. Starting from this assumption, the article analyzes the relationship between the managerial strategies and the political role of the Italian third sector, focusing on the implications of the management models put in place in order to “survive” the 2008 economic crisis. Two ideal-typical strategies will be outlined, labelled respectively “entrepreneurial turn” and “hyper-embeddedness”, which seem to have effects both in terms of the manner in which the political role is realized, and in terms of the degree of politicization of the organizations. Since such strategies can both increase or decrease nonprofits’ political ambitions, it is not possible to give an interpretation in terms of a tout court distancing from politics. However, it will be argued that a trait common to all the trajectories is the withdrawal from what Mouffe defines “the political”, referring specifically to the dimension of conflict and antagonism. Full article
Open AccessArticle The G1000 Firework Dialogue as a Social Learning System: A Community of Practice Approach
Soc. Sci. 2018, 7(8), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci7080129
Received: 25 June 2018 / Revised: 27 July 2018 / Accepted: 2 August 2018 / Published: 5 August 2018
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Abstract
New public governance studies have increasingly sought to highlight the importance of citizen engagement in local decision-making processes as a way to identify suitable approaches to matters of public concern. There is a particular absence of good theoretical development building upon empirical work
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New public governance studies have increasingly sought to highlight the importance of citizen engagement in local decision-making processes as a way to identify suitable approaches to matters of public concern. There is a particular absence of good theoretical development building upon empirical work exploring citizen participatory processes as potential sites for social learning. In this paper, we asked the overall research question of the extent to which a new citizen participation process can be designed as a social learning system to facilitate the integration of citizen types of interests and knowledge in local decision-making. To answer this question, the study’s results provided deeper insights into the internal social learning dynamics within one particular deliberately designed collective local decision-making process, the G1000 firework dialogue in Enschede, The Netherlands. Using Wenger’s concept of “communities of practice” (CoP) as a baseline for analysis, the results of this study indicated that the G1000 firework dialogue process encouraged the creation of activities that may be considered to correspond to the different structural dimensions of CoP and that new design-based models of citizen participation would benefit from adopting a more explicit incorporation of and orientation towards social learning practices and theories. Consequently, we argue that local governance should invest more in citizen participation processes that encourage and enable learning among different societal stakeholders with different interests through constructive dialogues over political matters. Full article
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