Societal Governance

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* Article/ Chapter: Societal Governance. By Jan Kooiman: In: Demokratien in Europa, pp 229-250



"For a few years now, governance as a concept has been a catchword in many corners of social science disciplines. Apparently there is a need for such a concept, although a bandwagon effect cannot be denied either. In the chapter I advance ideas presented in Modern Governance: government-society interactions (Kooiman 1993). In that book, attention was drawn to recent developments in those interactions with a ‘co’-, public-private character, offset against a ‘go-it-alone’ government perspective. In the past few years the literature on ‘governance’ has almost ‘exploded’ in many different areas and disciplines, and my own explorations in this field have also continued (Kooiman 1999).2 The present chapter presents the main outlines of some aspects of this continued effort: the question of different modes and orders of governance as patterns of societal governance. While ‘Modern Governance’ was still strongly ‘government-oriented’, this chapter broadens the perspective in the sense that it looks at governance as societal, with public as well as private ‘governors’ participating. While their roles may differ between societal levels and from sector to sector, the essence of the argument is that governance of modern societies is a mix of all kinds of governing activities and structures, in this chapter conceptualized as modes and orders. These mixes can be seen as ‘answers’ of those societies to changing governing demands. While this point of view is partly in line with other recent theorizing on governance, it also differs in important aspects (Rhodes 1997). The approach pursued here may be phrased in the form of a working definition, the elements of which will be made clear in the chapter itself. Social-political or interactive governing will be considered to be arrangements in which public as well as private actors aim at solving societal problems or create societal opportunities, aim at the care for the societal institutions within which these governing activities take place, and phrasing the principles according to which these activities are carried out. The term governance denotes conceptual or theoretical ideas about such governing activities."