Between democracy and governance

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3 Citations (Scopus)


The work of Gerry Stoker and Colin Hay considers the alliance between neoliberalism and public choice theory to be the motor of anti-politics and depoliticization in contemporary Western societies. Their effects have been to hollow out strong statecraft and hard state capacity, as well as the thick collective capacities for representation, participation and deliberation crucial to keeping democratic government responsive, effective and accountable to the common will. On this view, all new forms of connective action are ipso facto rejected as the spawn of neoliberalism: They appear as individualistic and preventing the much needed repoliticizations that can bring the old, strong combination of hard state power and thickly integrated citizenship back in. I do not think this type of politicization strategy will work. There are good reasons why it has fizzled out over time. New forms of political participation and social movements indicate a need for reconnecting political authorities and laypeople on the output side as a form of alternative political problematization strategy. Hay and Stoker want to mobilize citizens for repoliticizing latent or hidden interest and identity conflicts on the input side. By contrast, these new actors insist that it is more important to problematize how policy risks and problems are handled by a network of globally interconnected policy elites from the public, private and even voluntary domains. The challenge for democratic political analysis today is to avoid placing politicization before problematization or vice versa. This requires a new model which does not identify politics with inputs and thereby relegates outputs to the domain of technical, non-political administration and management. Connective action, I argue, manifests a new model for problematizing how policies are authoritatively articulated, performed, delivered and evaluated for the populations. In dismissing it a priori as individualistic and depoliticizing, Hay and Stoker ignore how the new participants and movements provide a new way of problematizing and combating neoliberalism in theory as well as in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)286-307
Number of pages22
JournalBritish Politics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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