Possibilities for democratic 'postgovernance'? Genealogy and the political

Heather Savigny

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    In Democratic Governance, Bevir sets out an interpretivist account of the historical intertwining of states and markets that, he argues, provides the context in which the shift from government to governance has taken place. The discussion below is both a response to, and development of, the ideas within Bevir's work. He argues that his work is mainly diagnostic; he historically situates and critically evaluates the shift from government to governance without seeking to prescribe solutions or alternative outcomes (while accepting some prescriptive aspect to his work (2010, pp. 2–3), he ultimately suggests that prescription is really beyond the remit of social science (2010, p. 14)). I suggest, however, that the genealogical method he adopts contains the seeds for democratic reinvigoration and provides for the possibility of action. I argue that his work can be developed to point towards opportunities for enhancing the democratic process, where the ‘political’ is restated by the demos to political elites; it is this interaction that provides the opportunity for a more responsible political process, and has the potential to signal a move to an era of postgovernance. The manner in which I develop this point is through recourse, initially, to Bevir's Democratic Governance. In so doing, my observations and comments revolve around two central themes: methodology and the ‘political’. These two themes feature prominently within the book, and as such I will begin with an overview of the manner in which Bevir develops these. I then move on, through critique, to reflect upon the manner in which this approach provides the basis for the restoration of the ‘political’ to the theory and practice of governance, which in itself provides for the possibilities of moving beyond contemporary ideas of ‘governance’ to a new epoch of ‘postgovernance’.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)265–272
    Number of pages8
    JournalBritish Politics
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2011

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