New Modes of Shaping Social Change?
Edited by Regine Paul, Marc Mölders, Alfons Bora, Michael Huber and Peter Münte
Chapter 2: “Bringing the social back in”: governance analysis as a mode of enquiry
This chapter makes the case for adopting a specific approach to theorizing public policy governance and regulation, named “governance analysis”. The chapter’s argument originates from a need to ‘bring society back into’ political and politico-legal explanations of how governing is done, what it achieves and how its wider socio-political effects are realized. "Bringing the social back in" means attending to the social and political ordering effects of governance, both intended and unintended. Governance analysis is a mode of enquiry that enables researchers to move between a systematic common framework and empirical specificity. It also enables them to account for processes and effects of “shaping society” holistically. In governance analysis, the theorization of public policy governance and regulation is oriented towards a distinct set of enquiries and interests. These focus on (a) explaining how relations of power and authority shape governing and regulatory practices, and (b) on assessing the wider socio-political and socio-economic implications of these ways of exerting influence. Beyond the orientation of empirical enquiry, however, the explanation and assessment are also organized by reference to a specific analytical framework. Empirically, this governance analysis framework enables us to explore the relationship of structures, processes and actors in particular situations and moments of wielding intentional societal change. Conceptually, adopting this framework facilitates the integrated theorization of regulatory conditions, contingent governing practices, their interaction and their public policy consequences over time.
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