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)
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.
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
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- civic initiative
- the civil sphere
- administrative modernisation
- co-producing governance
- social innovation
- democratic deficit
- democratic innovation