Handbook on Theories of Governance
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Handbook on Theories of Governance

Edited by Christopher Ansell and Jacob Torfing

In the past two decades, governance theories have arisen semi-independently across multiple disciplines. In law and regulation, planning, democratic theory, economics, public management, and international relations, among other disciplines, scholars have sought to describe new strategies of governing. As a result, the notion of governance is now one of the most frequently used social science concepts in the world. No single theory encompasses this diverse body of work, but rather multiple theories with different aims and perspectives. The Handbook on Theories of Governance collects these theories of governance together as an analytical resource for governing in an increasingly complex, fragmented and dynamic society.
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Chapter 5: State theory

Bob Jessop


This chapter reviews some scholarly approaches to governance inspired by different accounts of the state and state power and proposes a new approach based on the strategic-relational approach. It assesses the unproductive distinction between state-centric and society-centric perspectives, evaluates whether a governance-centric perspective is a feasible alternative, and then proposes an approach to state power building on the work of Gramsci and Foucault. It defines state power in terms of “government + governmentality in the shadow of hierarchy” and relates this to the idea of metagovernance and collibration. The chapter ends with five remarks on the scope for mutual dialogue and enrichment between a state-theoretical agenda on governance and a governance-theoretical agenda on the state.

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