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Katharine McGowan, Frances Westley and Ola Tjörnbo
Regine Paul and Marc Mölders
Alfons Bora and Michael Huber
Edited by Regine Paul, Marc Mölders, Alfons Bora, Michael Huber and Peter Münte
This chapter introduces in depth the scientific models and theories which have captured the idea of “shaping society” with their conceptual language. These scientific models are analysed from the perspective of the sociology of knowledge. The underlying intuition is that a deeper understanding of the respective semantics will also improve our comprehension of the social structures in the field. The semantics of governance captures a widespread contemporary description of the exercise of power and its legitimation. Governance is understood as a form of statehood mainly characterized by negotiation and co-operation, in contrast to hierarchical steering, rule-making, enforcement and sanctioning. To a certain extent, governance has turned the scales against the more traditional concepts of law and regulation, which bear some connotations of the nineteenth and twentieth century nation-state and have allegedly become rather outdated models of societal organization. Contrary to this widespread intuition within the governance debate, the chapter demonstrates that the perspective of law and regulation is still fruitful for conceptualizing the relation between the different fields and subsystems of modern society. While governance indeed expanded the analytical realm towards new instruments of control and the new actors involved in decision-making, it did so all the while preserving and even strengthening the idea of controlling and powerfully shaping societal conditions. The chapter therefore suggests recollecting the functional nucleus of “governance” within the terminology of “regulation”. Such a nucleus places particular emphasis on the “ruling part” of governance semantics which (a) remains deeply concerned with questions of exercising influence and (b) feeds to a large extent on legal sources.