Governance and Democracy katarsis survey Paper

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Types of Multi-level Governance and Politics of Scale 














Power container (territory) 


Relational space (flows) 


Popular sovereignty 


Overlapping identities, rights and 



General-purpose jurisdictions 


Task-specific jurisdictions 


Non-intersecting memberships 


Intersecting memberships 


Jurisdictions at a limited number of 



No limit to the number of 

jurisdictional levels 


System-wide architecture 


Flexible design 


Sources: Marks/Hooghe 2004: 17; own elaboration. 










Governance analyses need a dialectical understanding of space and place, of the fixed and 

fluid aspect of space (Harvey 1989; Blatter 2004). The importance of understanding 

trans-scalar linkages of international, regional and local networks has grown (Madanipour et 

al. 2001; Novy 2001; Becker 2002: 242ff.; Le Galès 2002; Bache/Flinders 2004; Benz 2004; 

Brenner 2004a; Benz/Papadopoulos 2006b). But local agents have also received increasing 

attention (Hutchcroft 2001) and are the crucial actor in most of our case studies. During the 

last years and the dominance of liberal governance, borders have increasingly been perceived 

as obstructive to progressive politics. But democracy needs rules and boundaries, as 

citizenship rests on rights granted by state authority. But it creates a “we” and a “them”, 

inherent eg. in the “imagined communities” of nationalism (Anderson 1991). None of the 

KATARSIS-case studies enforces this type of exclusionary agency, neither at the national nor 

at any other level. Governance insists on more consensual and rational forms of the political 

resting on common deliberation in complex situations (Habermas 1992), but leads to the 

dangers of a reduction to the post-political (Mouffe 2006) and a tyranny of consensus. 

Concerning the exclusion from governance structures, networks are treated as less democratic 

by definition (Sack 2006). The case studies, however, point out that these arrangements can be 

organized in socially innovative ways, enhancing democratic participation of formerly 

excluded groups. This is facilitated by forms of citizen’s governance as in Porto Alegre and 

the granting of socio-economic rights, as in Tower Colliery.  

Scale – understood as the place for political action that is highly contested and in a process of 

radical transformation (Swyngedouw 1992; 1997) – is important to understand exclusionary 

dynamics and to evaluate SCS. Differing from “level”, “scale” does not necessarily imply 

hierarchies. Therefore, it can be useful for regional, local and urban governance (cf. Pierre 

1999; Hillier 2000; Le Galès 2002; Brenner 2004b), as the interplay between political 

decisions taken at local, global and also national levels of decision making can be explained. 

Urban governance is also an important topic to grasp the ongoing scalar transformations, 

which reemphasize the role of cities in a contradictory way: New possibilities for action on the 

local scale are created whereas the steering role of higher political scale creates new 

restrictions (cf. the case of POLIS XXI in André 2007). But there is the danger of localism 

inherent in SCS. The notion of citizenship implies the territorial bordering of rights and the 

concept of urban and regional citizenship (García 2006) implies an important upscaling of 

local initiatives described in the case studies, based on a broader understanding of exclusion as 

not only political, but multi-dimensional. Regional governance is an important concept, which 

can relate to newly emerging cross-border-regions (type II; cf. Coimbra de Souza/Novy 2007 

or Geddes 2000 for a more comprehensive overview) or to traditional regions within (more or 

less) federalist countries. The notion of scale is particularly important, if connected to the 

room of manoeuvre for socially creative strategies. In this sense, the growing influence of 











political decisions taken at the EU level, especially in its steering role (Sbragia 2000) is of 

particular relevance as the case studies of the Territorial Employment Pacts and Porto Alegre 

show emblematically. Whereas in the latter case, employment policies could not be tackled, as 

they were out of scope at the corresponding urban scale, multi-level-governance employed in 

the case of the Territorial Employment Pacts, where EU policies were interlinked with 

national, regional and urban policies seems to be a promising approach. If the full potential of 

such an approach should be realized, the decision-making power of the actors at local scales 

would need to be increased. This seems to be particularly difficult, as the European Union is a 

peculiar supra-national arrangement (cf. also: Eising 2004; Holman 2004; Yee 2004) which 

differs from other arrangements of (supra-) regional governance (Payne 2000), which have 

their major (or unique) focus on type II arrangements. The design of the EU could enable 

socially creative initiatives, as its institutions have a comparably high decision-making power. 

Unfortunately, decision-making processes at EU-level are particularly vulnerable to 

exclusionary dynamics as the very institutional setting with the emphasis on the executive and 

judiciary branches to the detriment of the legislative (cf. Puntscher Riekmann 1998; Buckel 

2007: ch. D II) favours elitist forms of governance. Thus, socially creative strategies on the 

local level have to consider influences from regional, national and international scales and find 

ways to widen their scope of influence towards these scales to avoid the trap of localism, 

currently inherent in many participatory governance settings. 

The key hindrance of European governance to SCS is the post-political approach inherent in 

the liberal mainstream (Mouffe 2006) which denies the existence of antagonism and diverging 

interests. The hegemonic consensus, as exposed in the case of Barcelona, but also present in 

Vienna (Coimbra de Souza/Novy 2007; Novy/Hammer 2007), makes it difficult to articulate 

different interests based on class, gender or ethnicity within the given field of politics. While 

the participatory budget permits to articulate interests and to make choices, Territorial Pacts 

like in Barcelona hinder the clear definition of adversaries. But SCS often emerge out of the 

articulation of repressed needs and interests which need different rules of the game. 

Democracy has to become again a place to negotiate antagonistic interests, as emblematically 

shown in Porto Alegre. It needs clearly bordered forms of government, supposingly in line 

with Europe´s federal tradition (cf. table 3). Territorial Pacts could be a step in this direction, 

if they include the choice about developmental alternatives.  

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