Governance and Democracy katarsis survey Paper

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We suggest to use an ample concept of democracy which embraces both the political and the 

socioeconomic fields. The political field structures the procedural dimension of decision 

making and the possibilities of the affected persons to influence the decisions. The 

socioeconomic field structures the entitlement dimension, where an inclusive society provides 

universal social and economic rights. For this purpose, we propose a two-dimensional concept 

of democracy which takes both the procedural and the material dimensions of democracy into 

account (cf. Table 1). 


Modalities of Democracy 






Political Socioeconomic 

What about? 


Prime Value? 

Freedom Equality 




Access to decision making: 

Control of state apparatus: 

bureaucracy/ public control/ 

private control 

Participation/ empowerment 

Access to resources 


Social & economic rights as 

entitlements: universal  

or targeted 

Forms of democracy 

Direct, representative, 


Socioeconomic citizenship 


Utopian Form of 



Democratization and  


Embedded capitalism, post-

capitalism, solidarian 

economy, socialism 












Governance theory is generally applied to rethink the role of the state. Differing from the 

usage in former times when it was either synonymous with government or with steering by 

market forces, governance can be defined as the totality of theoretical conceptions on 

governing, which, according to Jan Kooiman (2003: 4), “can be considered as the totality of 

interactions, in which public as well as private actors participate, aimed at solving societal 

problems or creating societal opportunities”. This indicates a shift in the conceptualisation of 

state and power. The state is no longer treated as the only agent responsible for societal 

development but is recognized to have a crucial role in steering society. The emphasis thus 

shifted towards the analysis of the interplay between state and non-state actors (Kooiman 

1993; Rhodes 1997). 

Therefore, the rising interest for governance analyses has to be related to the exhaustion of the 

old ideological dispute between market and state concerning their respective failures. While 

neoliberalism was successful in discrediting top-down state planning, its inner contradiction 

led to a process which Polanyi already described for liberalism before World War II: The self 

regulating market is a liberal utopia which destroys people and environment (Polanyi 1978: 

19f.). Governance seems to be a conceptual reaction, reintroducing other agents and 

organisations than markets. It is an institutionalist approach which reflects on how to organize 

socioeconomic coordination. “Governance is a negotiation mechanism for formulating and 

implementing policy that actively seeks the involvement of stakeholders and civil society 

organisations besides government bodies and experts” (García 2006: 745, emphasis added).  

It is a mode of coordination, relating to the questions of control, resistance and steering  

(cf. Arthur et al. 2007: 2), analysing fields of power where states do not hold monopolies  

(cf. Fontan et al. 2007: 2).  


Normative and Analytical Discourses on Governance 

The highly normative concept of good governance – favoured by important international 

institutions such as the World Bank (1992), the OECD (1995), the United Nations (UNDP 

1997) or the European Commission (CEC 2001; 2003) – recognizes the importance of the 

legal framework. These institutions have developed various slightly different but nevertheless 

similar notions of ‘good’ governance (cf. Weiss 2000 for a good comparison) which are all 

based on a clear commitment to economic liberalisation. Thus, the state has been recognized 

as the central regulatory institution to guarantee functioning markets, which themselves are 

seen as necessary for socio-economic development (cf. especially World Bank 2002). The way 

governance and democracy are related by the major international financial institutions can be 










shown by the World Bank and the way structural adjustment programs are used to implement 

a liberal mode of governance. The good governance approach came up due to the exhaustion 

of the so-called “Washington Consensus” (Williamson 1990) based on privatisation, 

liberalisation and deregulation. Structural adjustment programmes imposed by the 

international financial institutions on developing countries resulted in weak productivity gains 

and the rise of poverty and social crisis (Adedeji 1999, Cornia et al. 1988; Lopes 1999; Imhof 

2003), and it became evident that the Washington Consensus was outdated. “Governance” was 

a welcome response and helped to foster a “Post-Washington Consensus” (Williamson 2004; 

cf. also JEP 2/2003; Helleiner 2003; Schwank 2003; Burchardt 2004) and to “bring the state 

back in” (Evans et al. 1985), without having to withdraw from the arguments against state 

intervention (cf. Abrahamsen 2000: 47ff.; Ziai 2006: 70ff. for discourse analysis). 

The EU’s concept of good governance differs somewhat from the World Bank’s concept. The 

five principles of good governance are openness, participation, accountability, effectiveness 

and coherence (CEC 2001: 10). As the EU’s “legitimacy today depends on involvement and 

participation […] the linear model of dispensing policies from above must be replaced by a 

virtuous circle, based on feedback, networks and involvement from policy creation to 

implementation at all levels” (CEC 2001: 11). The main emphasis lies on improved 

communication to and consultation of national and sub-national governments and civil society 

by the European Union, while the “European Commission alone makes legislative and policy 

proposals. Its independence strengthens its ability to execute policy, act as the guardian of the 

Treaty and represent the Community in international negotiations” (CEC 2001: 8). Thus, the 

principles designed to reinforce subsidiarity and democratic governance (García 2006: 745) 

are accompanied by a centralization of powers at EU executive level, which is legitimized by 

the principle of “effectiveness”. Thus, governance claims normatively to be a concept of an 

integrative form of governing which “is supposed to correct both state and market failure” 

(Wassenhoven 2007: 12).  

In a more analytical perspective, governance represents an approach to politics different from 

the state-centred perspective on government being employed before. This was linked to socio-

economic transformations which will now briefly be explained. During the crises of Fordism, 

the neoliberalism of Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman grew in importance in connection 

with the criticisms of the welfare state and was explicitly anti-socialist (Harvey 2005). In fact, 

it was directed against all efforts to limit the liberty of the few via the power of the majority 

(Hayek 1978). Neoliberalism criticised not only big government and planning in general, but 

democratic planning and government as well: “democracy is an enemy of freedom – perhaps 

not the worst enemy, but an enemy nonetheless” (Lehmann 1990: 79). Right from the 

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