Good Government

Good Government

The Relevance of Political Science

Edited by Sören Holmberg and Bo Rothstein

In all societies, the quality of government institutions is of the utmost importance for the well-being of its citizens. Problems like high infant mortality, lack of access to safe water, unhappiness and poverty are not primarily caused by a lack of technical equipment, effective medicines or other types of knowledge generated by the natural or engineering sciences. Instead, the critical problem is that the majority of the world’s population live in societies that have dysfunctional government institutions. Central issues discussed in the book include: how can good government be conceptualized and measured, what are the effects of ‘bad government’ and how can the quality of government be improved?

Chapter 5: Impartiality and the Need for a Public Ethics of Care

Helena Olofsdotter Stensöta

Subjects: development studies, development studies, politics and public policy, international politics, political economy, public policy, regulation and governance

Extract

Helena Olofsdotter Stensöta The theory that quality of government above all depends on impartiality, is an argument valid throughout the entirety of government, including welfare state policy areas such as education, healthcare, the environment, and law enforcement (Rothstein 2011). Quality of government theory resembles rule of law theory but with one important difference: the inclusion of the welfare state branches of government in its scope. Hence, this is exactly where the two theories divert. Thus, it is theoretically central to demonstrate precisely how welfare state-related areas are improved by applying impartiality as a principle and tool. This is an ambitious and difficult task as previous research into implementation has convincingly demonstrated that bureaucratic tools of government do not handle all problems in welfare state-related areas equally well (Pressman and Wildavsky 1984; Wilson 1989; Meyers and Vorsanger 2003). Hence, for the theory of quality of government as impartiality to hold, it is necessary to specify more precisely how quality of government can be created in the various welfare state policy areas. The matter of quality government in welfare state-related areas is also crucial from a more everyday political viewpoint. Welfare state areas constitute a large part of modern states, in terms of both number of assignments and proportion of budget (Huber and Stephens 2001). Moreover, citizen trust in the state above all seems to be affected by how citizens perceive output and interaction with the state in welfare areas, as contact between public employees and citizens is most frequent here...

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