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Critical Reflections on Interactive Governance

Critical Reflections on Interactive Governance

Self-organization and Participation in Public Governance

Edited by Jurian Edelenbos and Ingmar van Meerkerk

In many countries, government and society have undergone a major shift in recent years, now tending toward ‘smaller government’ and ‘bigger society’. This development has lent increased meaning to the notion of interactive governance, a concept that this book takes not as a normative ideal but as an empirical phenomenon that needs constant critical scrutiny, reflection and embedding in modern societies.

Chapter 5: Democratic transfer: everyday neoliberalism, hegemony and the prospects for democratic renewal

Hendrik Wagenaar

Subjects: politics and public policy, public policy, regulation and governance


The starting point of Chapter 5 by Wagenaar consists of a paradox and an observation. The paradox is that the countless current initiatives with public participation or interactive governance do not necessarily result in an expansion or deepening of institutionalized liberal democracy. The related observation is that we cannot understand the full import of public participation in contemporary liberal-electoral democracy without taking its political economy into account. Wagenaar argues that an explanation for this observation and paradox can be found in the double hegemony of democratic elitism and everyday neoliberalism. What is this double hegemony and what can be done to overcome democratic impairment in the face of this double hegemony? Wagenaar elaborates these questions in his chapter. With regard to the latter, he proposes a strategy of ‘democratic transfer’, the transfer of democratic forms and practices that originate and flourish in the civic sphere to political society. This strategy consists of two steps: ‘redescription’ and ‘redesign’ of the relation between political elites and the public.

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