"Democratic Governance" examines the changing nature of the modern state and reveals the dangers these changes pose to democracy. Mark Bevir shows how new ideas about governance have gradually displaced old-style notions of government in Britain and around the world. Policymakers cling to outdated concepts of representative government while at the same time placing ever more faith in expertise, markets, and networks. Democracy exhibits blurred lines of accountability and declining legitimacy.
Bevir explores how new theories of governance undermined traditional government in the twentieth century. Politicians responded by erecting great bureaucracies, increasingly relying on policy expertise and abstract notions of citizenship and, more recently, on networks of quasi-governmental and private organizations to deliver services using market-oriented techniques. Today, the state is an unwieldy edifice of nineteenth-century government buttressed by a sprawling substructure devoted to the very different idea of governance--and democracy has suffered.
In "Democratic Governance," Bevir takes a comprehensive look at governance and the history and thinking behind it. He provides in-depth case studies of constitutional reform, judicial reform, joined-up government, and police reform. He argues that the best hope for democratic renewal lies in more interpretive styles of expertise, dialogic forms of policymaking, and more diverse avenues for public participation.
"To my knowledge, Bevir is the first to systematically examine the ideas and practices of governance in a longer historical perspective. On this point the book is a much-needed correction to the popular delusion--propagated and sustained through the language of governance itself--that what is currently being broached under this label is all new."--Henrik Enroth, Governance "[I]n this densely argued book, Bevir connects theory and practice in a sophisticated and compelling way."--Heather Blakey, Parliamentary Affairs "Bevir ... has made an important contribution to the redemption of modern social science--making a stand against the new institutionalism because of the belief that, in the end, it is people and not institutions that ultimately make and remake our world."--Susan Hodgett, Environment and Planning "[T]his is a compelling, lucid and accessible account of the emergence of the new governance. It serves not only as a useful reference for students, but also as a stimulus for wider debate."--Rob Manwaring, Political Studies Review