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The Regulatory State vs. the Networked Polity : confronting narratives of change

Antonino Palumbo
p. 125-141

Résumé

The aim of the article is to summarize and reassess the innovations brought about by governance theory. It is argued that the notion of governance is a conceptual device that could help rationalise and articulate the changes undertaken by liberal democracies since the late 1970s. The article suggests the need to distinguish between two distinct research programmes composing governance studies, which are influenced by alternative epistemic traditions—political economy and economic sociology. Rationalizations of change influenced by political economy support the idea that the outcome of recent political change is a market-oriented “Regulatory State”, while those influence by economic sociology see governance as supporting the rising of a “Networked Polity”. Since these research programmes blend together descriptive and prescriptive elements, what is required is a twin type of evaluation that could assess both their relative heuristic power and ability to justify the normative ideals they seek to engender. The main claim advanced in the paper is that, while the Regulatory State is a better heuristic category for understanding recent political change than that of the Networked Polity, the reverse happens when these two entities are considered as normative ideals to engender.

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Texte intégral

Introduction

  • 1 Inman, R. P., “Markets, Governments, and the ’New’ Political Economy”, in Auerbach, A. J., Feldstei (...)
  • 2 Hollis, M., Models of Man, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1977.
  • 3 Greene, F. J., Mole, K. F. D. and Storey, J. (2008), Three Decades of Enterprise Culture, Basingsto (...)
  • 4 Rhodes, R. A. W., “The Governance Narrative: Key Findings and Lessons from the ESRC’s Whitehall Pro (...)
  • 5 Ansell, C., “The Networked Polity: Regional Development in Western Europe”, Governance, 2000, 13(3) (...)

1 It is possible to identify two distinct research programmes contributing to governance studies. Broadly speaking, one is derived from what Inman1 calls the “New” Political Economy (NPE), whereas the other builds upon sociological perspectives antithetical to this scientific paradigm.2 Notwithstanding the fact that both deal with the same empirical evidence, deep down their accounts of change tend to differ. The former suggest seeing recent political and institutional change as an attempt to consolidate the enterprise culture of the 1980s.3 By contrast, the latter present it as the outcome of decentralised attempts to solve the policy mess caused by neoliberal reforms of big government.4 Methodological divergences end up shaping their normative outlook as well. One claims that the outcome of three decades of restructuring of the public sector is a Regulatory State committed to a form of Madisonian democracy. The other suggest that the upshot is rather a Networked Polity engaged in large scale democratic experiments—experiments that are undermining traditional liberal divisions between state and civil society, domestic and international domains, high and low politics.5 In clarifying the features that distinguish these two research programmes, I maintain that any assessment of the narratives of change proposed needs to consider both (i) their heuristic value as analytical frameworks and (ii) their normative adequacy as justificatory frameworks.

Regulatory State and Networked Polity as analytical frameworks

2 As analytical frameworks, the accounts inspired by NPE are grounded on a disembedded model of agency and equilibrium analyses emphasising the positive role of monetary incentives and competitive dynamics. Those derived from sociological paradigms assume a socially embedded model of agency and stress the positive role played by non-monetary incentives and relations of trust. This has noteworthy implications concerning the strategies invoked to assure horizontal coordination. One side views the market as the main institutional device capable of solving the dilemmas affecting the decentralised actions of strategic (collective and individual) actors and thus presses for the mandatory disclosure of information and the promotion of the individual’s freedom to choose. By contrast, the other side retains network forms of organisation superior solutions to markets and support the engagement of those affected by the political process in both policy-making and policy implementation. In other words, the Regulatory State adopts refined versions of the classical homo oeconomicus endowed with a set of well-defined and self-originating preferences, whereas the model of agency underpinning the Networked Polity is embedded in a myriad of social relations that shape its desires and beliefs accordingly. The first also views social institutions and practices as strategic equilibria between maximizing individual agents and tends to treat individual action as invariant across institutional domains. The second is committed to highlighting the non-contractual elements upon which economic life rests. From this Durkheimian perspective, it is the very existence (or absence) of dense social networks surrounding the individual that explains: (a) its power to establish and maintain cooperative relations in highly uncertain social settings; (b) its relative success in actual existing markets vis-à-vis other competing individuals and groups; (c) its ability to coordinate without centrally imposed and sanctioned directives.

  • 6 Giddens, A., The Third Way, Cambridge, Polity, 1998.
  • 7 Schwarzmantel, J., “Challenging Neoliberal Hegemony”, Contemporary Politics, 2005, 11(2-3): 85-98.

3 The narratives of change proposed are likewise at odds with each other. The aim of the Regulatory State is threefold: (1) to focus on regulatory activities, rather than Keynesian stabilization policies; (2) to assume a strategic steering role within a dynamic market society, rather than that of main provider of goods and services and engine for economic growth; (3) to promote an entrepreneurial working ethos that would enable individuals and local communities to take responsibility for their own fate, rather than paternalistic attitudes reinforcing a perverse welfare dependency culture. In short, the Regulatory State represents an attempt to refine, consolidate and accomplish the restructuring of state institutions initiated by Thatcher and Reagan. Behind the Networked Polity there is, on the contrary, a narrative that stresses the discontinuities between neoliberal reforms of big government carried out since the late 1970s, and the subsequent evolution of the political process. At an institutional level, the growth and pre-eminence of network forms of organisation is accounted for as the result of several attempts to recompose the fragmented political landscape from the bottom up. The Networked Polity is thus presented as the embodiment of an alternative ’third way’ to both state and market solutions—a pragmatic attempt to transcend the ideological divisions fuelling the political imaginary of modernity. Far from being a short cut to the market or a form of compassionate neoliberalism, as imputed by critics, this pragmatic third way is proposed as an effective means for the renewal of social democracy in a post-modern global age.6 Although these narratives are predicated upon political ideals which make them rather value-laden,7 I think it interesting to confront these two accounts of change by assessing their heuristic power as analytical frameworks in the first place.

  • 8 Moran, M., The British Regulatory State, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2003, p.6.

4 To start with, both frameworks have been the object of strong criticism concerning the very idea that the power of the state has been undermined so much that its ability to reclaim sovereignty internally and externally is now permanently affected. Thus, in his review of Regulatory State literature,8 Moran argues that :

After the great crisis of the 1970s, the state in Britain did indeed scale down many of its central ambitions, but […] it also acquired some startling new ones. […] the turn to a regulatory mode also greatly widened the range of social and economic life that was subject to public power. The Regulatory State is a colonizing state with its own utopian projects quite as ambitious as those that characterized Scott’s high modernism. And the image of a turn from command is […] hard to reconcile with the growth of a vastly expanded apparatus of surveillance and control within the public sector […] and with the transformation of self-regulation […] where the direction of change has been towards more hierarchy, more formality, and more state control.

  • 9 Jayasuriya, K., “The New Regulatory State and Relational Capacity”, Policy & Politics, 2004, 32(4): (...)
  • 10 Levi-Faur, D., Gilad S., “The Rise of the British Regulatory State: Transcending the Privatization (...)

5 A similar assessment is put forward by Jayasuriya,9 “dispersal of governance and the consequent segmentation of the state does not necessarily lead to the weakening of the executive. In fact, the ‘core executive’ of the state takes on a pivotal role as the coordinator of metagovernance […] the decentring of the ‘state’ is paralleled by a concentration of executive power within the new Regulatory State.” This position is also shared by Levi-Faur and Gilad.10 They notice both the strategic aims behind state regulation and the fact that regulation has helped central governments extend their power of control over institutional ambits that post-war welfare developments unwittingly emancipated (i.e. local government, NHS, public education, etc.) or social contexts that somehow managed to escape welfare consolidation (i.e. professions, mutuals, charities, etc.). For them, “[…] the state did not lose control, but it rather centralized a control it never possessed. The increase in relational distance between regulators and regulatees was intentionally constructed as a tool of centralisation.”

  • 11 Green, D., Shapiro, I., Pathologies of Rational Choice, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 1994.
  • 12 Self, P., Governing by the Market, London, Macmillan, 1993.
  • 13 Davies, J. S., Challenging Governance Theory, Bristol, Policy Press, 2011.
    Bell, S., Hindmoor, A.,
    R (...)
  • 14 Rhodes, R. A. W., Understanding Governance, Buckingham, Open University Press, 1997.
  • 15 Bevir, M., Democratic Governance, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2010.

6 These remarks on the heuristic shortcomings of the Regulatory State are often accompanied by invitations to move beyond the rational choice perspectives influencing regulation studies to adopt a more socio-centric perspective. In my opinion, this is welcome given the limitations shown by the economic readings of politics advanced by NPE to date,11 and the shortcomings of the neoliberal prescriptions derived from those readings.12 However, it is also somewhat problematic, for the sociological approaches supporting the idea of Networked Polity are, heuristically speaking, even less reliable. An emerging second generation of governance theorists, less mesmerized by the explanatory power of networks and networking activities, is casting serious doubts on the main claims put forward by the generation who started this field of inquiry: (i) the “hollowed-out state” thesis, (ii) the shift from a re-structuring to a managerial approach, and (iii) the overall relevance attributed to the very idea of “governing without government”.13 For Rhodes,14 the crucial question that these theorists are raising is not simply about which actors initiated and have supported the various waves of reform carried out during the last three decades. Rather, they question both the conceptual soundness and empirical validity of the notion of unintended consequences upon which the whole idea of Networked Polity is predicated. If the functional explanations employed to account for the rise of new forms of agency and policy instruments are highly controversial, then the attempts to connect the alleged passage from government to governance to the electoral fortunes of political parties with different complexions are no less convincing.15

  • 16 Sørensen, G., The Transformation of the State, New York, Palgrave, 2004.
  • 17 Scharpf, F., Games Real Actors Play, Boulder, CO, Westview, 1997, chap.9.
  • 18 Jessop, R., “Governance and Metagovernance: on Reflexivity, Requisite Variety, and Requisite Irony” (...)
  • 19 Crouch, C., The Strange Non-Death of Neo-Liberalism, Cambridge, Polity, 2011.
  • 20 Hill, C. J., Lynn, L. E., ‘Is Hierarchical Governance in Decline? Evidence from Empirical Research’ (...)

7 To begin with, those supporting the notion of Networked Polity tend to focus almost exclusively on alleged instances of “governance without government”, neglecting to consider the relative importance of alternative phenomena that can be identified as “governance of government” and “government with government”.16 And in doing so, they also underplay the fact that ’governance without government’ always unfolds “in the shadow of hierarchy”.17 As argued by Jessop,18 networks and networking activities are as prone to failure as their market and bureaucratic counterparts; so they cannot be the outcome of social selection mechanisms rewarding their relative fitness. Moreover, across OECD countries, neoliberal and “third way” governments seem to share similar principles of action, systems of beliefs and attitudes to employ identical policy instruments to make what are described as “global” and “epochal” transformations dependent on the vagaries of electoral politics.19 As a working hypothesis about long-term political trends, the Networked Polity is, therefore, either unsupported by the available empirical evidence, or based on an improper generalization of restricted empirical evidence.20 Thus, despite the limitations of the Regulatory State, heuristically the Networked Polity represents a much more problematic analytical framework in that it exacerbates some of the weaknesses affecting the former.

  • 21 Palumbo, A., Situating Governance. Context, Content, Critique, Colchester, ECPR Press (forthcoming)

8 It is my contention that a more nuanced account of the alleged passage from government to governance is required, and that the analytical framework supplied by the more critical readings of the Regulatory State represents a good base for doing this. At an explanatory level, this revised account needs to pay more attention to two aspects: (i) the ways in which seemingly antithetical policy tools can be strategically used by diverse state actors pursuing their own political objectives, and (ii) how in their interaction with other societal agents those policy tools can reinforce the power of domination of those very state actors—rather than engender individual choice or empower civil society, as is often claimed. To this end, I put forward two assertions I try to justify at length elsewhere.21 First, that the outcome of the various waves of reforms undertaken in the last three decades have in reality promoted a dual dynamic of political centralisation-cum-administrative decongestion that has reinforced the power of core executive institutions vis-à-vis their legislative counterparts. Second, I claim that the Regulatory State paradigm could account for this dual dynamic if its analytical focus switched towards the meta-game wherein the regulatory game unfolds. In other words, this paradigm needs to consider the ability of state actors to play both constitutional game where rules are established and post-constitutional game where rules are enforced, as well as their ability to occupy several positions at once and switch between the roles of regulators and meta-regulators at will.

  • 22 Bader, V., “Complex Legitimacy in Compound Polities: the EU as example”, Representation, 2010, 46(3 (...)
  • 23 Somers, M. R., “Reply to the Critics”, Trajectories, 2011, 22(2): 30.

9 It must, however, be noted that this revision would undermine the justificatory role attributed to the Regulatory State and cast doubts on its ability to promote its own alternative forms of legitimacy22. As Somers explains:23

“Market-driven governance,” […] is not simply the use of market incentives; rather, it entails an institutional complex of political interventions and public policies which in no way are driven by actual free market practices. It is a hybrid mix of free market ideology, in tandem with government-driven market interventions and legal arrangements that redistribute wealth upwards. Market driven governance only exposes the poor and the middle class to real market discipline. Wealth and capital, by contrast, is fully supported by state and government regulations that make market outcomes predetermined in their favor. The genius and the alchemy of market-driven governance is that it puts a heavy political thumb on the societal scales, while behind the veil of free market ideology it appears that the rigged outcomes are actually the natural results of the free market at work.

  • 24 Polanyi, K., The Great Transformation, Boston, Beacon Press, 2001.

10 I argue that such a dynamic will inevitably cause the rising of counter-movements which, following Polanyi’s double movement thesis,24 are set to challenge this state of affairs and the consensus politics supporting it. The various crises which have emerged since 2008 could be taken as an indication of the empirical weaknesses affecting the justificatory framework of the Regulatory State and of the need to develop a proper normative analysis of the policy instruments endorsed by governance theorists.

Regulatory State and Networked Polity as justificatory frameworks

  • 25 La Spina, A., Majone, G., Lo stato regolatore, Bologna, Il mulino, 2000, 38, emphasis in original.
  • 26 Hajer, M., Wagenaar, W. (eds), Deliberative Policy Analysis, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, (...)

11 That both the Regulatory State and the Networked Polity are not merely Weberian ideal-types, but also normative ideals akin to those employed by political theorists, is acknowledged by their advocates as well. On this point, Majone is explicit: “the Regulatory State is (also) a normative idea, it could help assess, as well as intervene into, real existing political administrative systems.”25 Since the supporters of the Networked Polity subscribe to post-positivistic epistemologies, this acknowledgment is stated in a reverse form. For them, the Networked Polity must be understood, “not just as a normative statement of how we would like to see the relation between citizens and the state, but also, and more importantly, as an empirical observation of the direction things take in contemporary society.”26 According to their advocates, the Regulatory State and the Networked Polity pursue an identical goal—to boost the legitimacy of real existing liberal democracies, even if they impute the risk of a legitimation crisis to diverse sets of phenomena: the problems of ungovernability affecting welfare institutions in one case; the institutional fragmentation caused by reforms of big government in the other. The justificatory frameworks proposed by these two research programmes deal with three nested questions, with decreasing levels of abstraction, concerning (a) the type of legitimacy that needs to be boosted, (b) the kind of democratic vision more apt to do this in pluralist societies and (c) the mechanisms of accountability through which this goal can be achieved. I shall discuss each of them in turn.

  • 27 Scharpf, F., “Interdependence and Democratic Legitimation”, in Pharr, S.J., Putnam, R.D. (eds.), Di (...)
  • 28 Moravcsik, A., “Is there a Democratic Deficit in World Politics? A Framework for Analysis”, Governm (...)

12 Legitimacy. From the growing body of literature produced so far in governance studies, we can discern two main directions in the search for answers to the alleged legitimacy deficit of actually existing democratic regimes. The first adopts a rational choice account that attributes the difficulties of the post-war consensus to its reliance on procedural values. Accordingly, a three-pronged course of action is suggested: (i) developing a more effective problem-solving strategic attitude; (ii) adopting flexible policy instruments and forms of organisation; (iii) importing managerial techniques used in the private sector into the public sector. It is often remarked, that the intention is to move from what Scharpf27 calls an “input-oriented” mode of legitimacy to an alternative “output-oriented” mode concerned with the effective delivery of public goods and services. Moravcsik explains the virtues of output-oriented notions of legitimacy thus: “first is the need for greater attention, efficiency and expertise in areas where most citizens remain rationally ignorant or non-participatory. […] Second is the need impartially to dispense justice, equality and rights for individuals and minority groups. […] Third is the need to provide majorities with unbiased representation.”28

  • 29 Warren, M. E., “Governance-driven Democratization”, Critical Policy Analysis, 2009, 3(1): 8.

13The reverse solution is sought by those stressing the democratic potential of the Networked Polity as a dialogic policy environment. From this perspective, the switch from government to governance opens up the political process in several ways. First, it overcomes rigid liberal distinctions between state and civil society, so as to give the latter access into institutional fields which were previously the exclusive domain of technocratic bodies (i.e. policy making and implementation). Second, it introduces novel forms of representation that could complement the electoral ones traditionally employed by liberal democracies (i.e. descriptive forms of representation and stakeholding). Finally, deliberative engagement in the policy process makes it possible to establish feedback mechanisms that can remove obstructions in the information flows between centre and periphery that are responsible for government failure (i.e. excessive expectations and institutional capture). As Warren clarifies, “the strategy amounts to a functional compensation for the low global legitimacy of electoral democracy by generating legitimacy ‘locally’—issue by issue, policy by policy, and constituency by constituency.”29

  • 30 Hirschman, A. O., Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1970.
  • 31 Vanberg, V., “Globalization, Democracy, and Citizens’ Sovereignty: Can Competition among Government (...)
  • 32 Somin, I., “Foot Voting, Political Ignorance, and Constitutional Design”, Social Philosophy & Polic (...)

14 Democracy. Evidently, these diverging understandings of legitimacy support distinct conceptions of democracy. Hirschman supplies the analytical vocabulary for shedding light on these different visions.30 Those supporting the consolidation of a Regulatory State share the objective of promoting mechanisms of exit that will give citizens the ability to “vote-with-their-feet”. This entails setting constitutional constraints on central government by territorial, functional and fiscal forms of decentralisation which would allow individual and collective private actors to move across jurisdictions and in so doing develop forms of interjurisdictional competition.31 This solution would not only make democratic politics compatible with the market mechanism, but it would also avoid getting entangled in the collective action problems yielded by any instrumental evaluation of policy decisions at group level. As Somin puts it:32

Foot voters don’t need comparably detailed knowledge. It is enough for them to know that conditions are better in one state than another, and then be able to act on this knowledge by moving. So long as public officials themselves know that their policies can affect social conditions in ways that attract foot voters, they will have an incentive to implement better policies in order to appeal to potential migrants. Not only does foot voting create a stronger incentive to acquire knowledge than ballot box voting, it also usually requires less knowledge to implement effectively.

  • 33 Warren, M. E., “Governance-driven Democratization”, Critical Policy Analysis, 2009, 3(1): 8.

15 The Networked Polity camp appeals instead to deliberative conceptions of democracy that seek to establish channels of voice able to give all affected interests the power to influence the policy process. Engendering this democratic model requires three main steps: (i) the adoption of a more self-reflexive policy approach, (ii) the construction of a more participatory political environment and (iii) the development of an active form of citizenship. Hence, the welcome with which diverse types of democratic experimentation are greeted, and the encouragement given to the deliberative activities of mini-publics at local, national, regional and international levels. Once again, Warren spells out the rationale of these developments:33

Elected governments have become increasingly aware that electoral legitimacy does not translate into policy-specific legitimacy. Thus, legislation has for some time directed agencies to establish processes for “public input” or required ’community representation’ during policy development. From this perspective, governance-driven democratization is supplementary to electoral democracy—shoring up its functional weaknesses.

  • 34 Bevir, M., Democratic Governance, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2010, p. 33, ff.
  • 35 O’Donnell, G. A., “Horizontal Accountability in New Democracies”, Journal of Democracy, 1998, 9(3): (...)

16 Accountability. The criticisms moved against proceduralism and hierarchy as organising principles have deep implications for the notions of accountability established in the post-war. Building upon the iron logic of the agency theory supplied by NPE, supporters of the Regulatory State argue for a neat separation between strategic and administrative functions and for the development of managerial forms of accountability. The latter combine two forms of control and supervision. The first, often labelled as “performance accountability”34, is characterized by the definition of substantive standards of evaluations useful to indicate whether policy objectives were achieved effectively and efficiently. The second, identified as “horizontal accountability”35, refers to the supervision carried out by a growing number of regulatory agencies established by those who retain strategic policy power. Here, individual problem-solving abilities are allowed to bypass lines of authority and procedures that could obstruct or delay the accomplishment of given policy-objectives. The main goal of managers is, in turn, no longer viewed as that of cultivating a mythical public service ethos, but of satisfying the wishes of their sponsors. External controls are, finally, carried out by authorities who are not hierarchically linked to the entities under scrutiny in semi-juridical ways and by using quasi-legal means.

  • 36 Sabel, C.F., Simon, W. H., “Epilogue: Accountability without Sovereignty”, in G. de Búrca, G., Scot (...)
  • 37 Scott, C., “Accountability in the Regulatory State”, Journal of Law and Society, 2000, 27(1): 38-60

17 Rejecting the analyses based on agency theory, the theorists of the Networked Polity support the need to overcome the traditional distinction between “enactment” and “enforcement”.36 This leads them to support only the second of the two new forms of accountability sought by their counterpart, wishing to replace the first with what can be called “downward accountability”.37 The differences between “downward” and “performance-based” forms of accountability are subtle but considerable, for they reflect the diverse relevance attributed to competitive dynamics and dialogical cooperation by their respective advocates. If those in charge of delivery need to be made accountable to those whose interests are going to be affected, then engendering accountability means establishing channels of voice open to various stakeholders, in particular those at the bottom for whom public goods and services are crucial, rather than to political sponsors only. Subtly diverse also is the support given to the notion of horizontal accountability. In a Networked Polity, its function is that of embedding regulatory authorities in civil society by transforming them into a multiform population of mini-publics engaged in constantly revising and fleshing out serially and dialogically the constitutional framework of a pluralist society.

18 Which of these two justificatory frameworks is more appealing? Obviously, there is no easy answer to such a question. From my perspective, any assessment needs to consider the matter by using the three criteria of evaluation suggested by Hamlyn and Pettit: (a) desirability, (b) electability and (c) feasibility. My opinion is that on all three counts, the Networked Polity is a superior justificatory framework than the Regulatory State. This is due, to a large extent, to the weaknesses affecting the latter. In the first place, the supporters of the Regulatory State base their utilitarian calculations on allegedly value-free notions of social optimality that are utterly inconsistent with their principled defence of pluralism. Secondly, they maintain a remarkably cavalier attitude towards the question of social justice and a mystical faith in the “catallactic” power of market mechanisms. Finally, if the evaluation arrived at above concerning the higher plausibility of the Regulatory State as an analytical framework is at all sound, then we need to conclude that its feasibility is also deeply questionable. The financial crisis that started in 2008 and is now engulfing various social and institutional domains across all advanced liberal democracies could indeed be used as empirical evidence of its actual shortcomings. The various attempts to engender features of the Regulatory State seem to have aggravated the accountability gap that affected past welfare institutions. Moreover, they have developed perverse competitive dynamics which have further undermined the political effectiveness of representative democracy, reinforcing the risk of a systemic legitimation crisis.

  • 38 Hajer, M., Wagenaar, W. (eds), Deliberative Policy Analysis, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, (...)

19 In reversing the assessment proposed above concerning the heuristic power of our research programmes, I wish however to stress that this evaluation does not amount to a full endorsement of the Networked Polity either. Rather, my claim is that, insofar as the latter’s superiority is restricted to its more prescriptive elements, we need to revise the picture of the Networked Polity offered by its many advocates. First of all, it needs to be recognised that far from being “an empirical observation of the direction things take in contemporary society,” the Networked Polity is primarily “a normative statement of how we would like to see the relation between citizens and the state.”38 Second, I maintain that a proper normative analysis of the various aspects of the Networked Polity needs to be developed so as to test its desirability, electability and feasibility.

Conclusion

20 The article has analyzed both the content and the presuppositions of governance theory from the perspective of political theory. In acknowledging the usefulness of this term for rationalising the variegated sets of reforms carried out in the last three decades, I have attempted to distinguish between the various approaches that compose this heterogeneous field of studies. In tilling this field, my main concern has been twofold. First, I tried to spell out the implications that the shift to governance entail for traditional conceptions of legitimacy, democracy and accountability. Second, I endeavoured to define what sort of criteria we need to assess the validity of claims put forward by governance theorists. According to my analysis, it is possible to identify two main research programmes contributing to governance studies: one that is inspired by the NPE and the other that appeals to distinct sociological paradigms. I then suggested that, since these research programmes blend together descriptive and prescriptive elements, a twin type of evaluation is required to assess both their relative heuristic power and their relative ability to justify the normative ideals they seek to engender. Briefly, rationalisations of change influenced by NPE support the idea that the outcome of recent political change is a “market-oriented” Regulatory State, while those influenced by sociology view governance as supporting the rise of a Networked Polity whose aim is to “govern without government” dialogically. The main substantive claim advanced in the article is that, while the Regulatory State is a better “heuristic category” for understanding recent political change than that of the Networked Polity, the reverse happens when these two entities are considered as normative ideals to engender.

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Notes

1 Inman, R. P., “Markets, Governments, and the ’New’ Political Economy”, in Auerbach, A. J., Feldstein, M. (eds.), Handbook of Public Economics, Vol. 2. Amsterdam, Elsevier, 1987, pp. 647-777.

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5 Ansell, C., “The Networked Polity: Regional Development in Western Europe”, Governance, 2000, 13(3): 303-33.

6 Giddens, A., The Third Way, Cambridge, Polity, 1998.

7 Schwarzmantel, J., “Challenging Neoliberal Hegemony”, Contemporary Politics, 2005, 11(2-3): 85-98.

8 Moran, M., The British Regulatory State, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2003, p.6.

9 Jayasuriya, K., “The New Regulatory State and Relational Capacity”, Policy & Politics, 2004, 32(4): 490.

10 Levi-Faur, D., Gilad S., “The Rise of the British Regulatory State: Transcending the Privatization Debate”, Comparative Politics, 2004, 37(1): 116.

11 Green, D., Shapiro, I., Pathologies of Rational Choice, New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 1994.

12 Self, P., Governing by the Market, London, Macmillan, 1993.

13 Davies, J. S., Challenging Governance Theory, Bristol, Policy Press, 2011.
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14 Rhodes, R. A. W., Understanding Governance, Buckingham, Open University Press, 1997.

15 Bevir, M., Democratic Governance, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2010.

16 Sørensen, G., The Transformation of the State, New York, Palgrave, 2004.

17 Scharpf, F., Games Real Actors Play, Boulder, CO, Westview, 1997, chap.9.

18 Jessop, R., “Governance and Metagovernance: on Reflexivity, Requisite Variety, and Requisite Irony”, in Bang, H. P. (ed.), Governance as Social and Political Communication. Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2003, pp. 101-16.

19 Crouch, C., The Strange Non-Death of Neo-Liberalism, Cambridge, Polity, 2011.

20 Hill, C. J., Lynn, L. E., ‘Is Hierarchical Governance in Decline? Evidence from Empirical Research’, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 2005, 15(2): 173-95.

21 Palumbo, A., Situating Governance. Context, Content, Critique, Colchester, ECPR Press (forthcoming).

22 Bader, V., “Complex Legitimacy in Compound Polities: the EU as example”, Representation, 2010, 46(3): 261-79.

23 Somers, M. R., “Reply to the Critics”, Trajectories, 2011, 22(2): 30.

24 Polanyi, K., The Great Transformation, Boston, Beacon Press, 2001.

25 La Spina, A., Majone, G., Lo stato regolatore, Bologna, Il mulino, 2000, 38, emphasis in original.

26 Hajer, M., Wagenaar, W. (eds), Deliberative Policy Analysis, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 24.

27 Scharpf, F., “Interdependence and Democratic Legitimation”, in Pharr, S.J., Putnam, R.D. (eds.), Disaffected Democracies, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2000, pp.101-20.

28 Moravcsik, A., “Is there a Democratic Deficit in World Politics? A Framework for Analysis”, Government and Opposition, 2004, 39: 614, emphasis in original.

29 Warren, M. E., “Governance-driven Democratization”, Critical Policy Analysis, 2009, 3(1): 8.

30 Hirschman, A. O., Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1970.

31 Vanberg, V., “Globalization, Democracy, and Citizens’ Sovereignty: Can Competition among Governments Enhance Democracy?”, Constitutional Political Economy, 2000, 11(1): 87-112.

32 Somin, I., “Foot Voting, Political Ignorance, and Constitutional Design”, Social Philosophy & Policy, 2011, 28: 211.

33 Warren, M. E., “Governance-driven Democratization”, Critical Policy Analysis, 2009, 3(1): 8.

34 Bevir, M., Democratic Governance, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2010, p. 33, ff.

35 O’Donnell, G. A., “Horizontal Accountability in New Democracies”, Journal of Democracy, 1998, 9(3): 112-26.

36 Sabel, C.F., Simon, W. H., “Epilogue: Accountability without Sovereignty”, in G. de Búrca, G., Scott, J. (eds), New Governance and Constitutionalism in Europe and the US, Oxford, Hart, 2006, pp.395-412.

37 Scott, C., “Accountability in the Regulatory State”, Journal of Law and Society, 2000, 27(1): 38-60.

38 Hajer, M., Wagenaar, W. (eds), Deliberative Policy Analysis, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2003, p. 24.

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Antonino Palumbo, « The Regulatory State vs. the Networked Polity : confronting narratives of change », Observatoire de la société britannique, 16 | 2014, 125-141.

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Antonino Palumbo, « The Regulatory State vs. the Networked Polity : confronting narratives of change », Observatoire de la société britannique [En ligne], 16 | 2014, mis en ligne le 01 novembre 2015, consulté le 29 mai 2017. URL : http://osb.revues.org/1747 ; DOI : 10.4000/osb.1747

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Antonino Palumbo

Lecturer à l'Université de Palerme

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Observatoire de la société britannique

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