From a term used largely within political science in the mid-1990s, ‘governance’ has become a key conceptual and analytical convention adopted by social policy, largely because of its usefulness in examining questions that are key to the discipline: citizenship; welfare rights and responsibilities; accountability; legitimacy and partnership working. Clarence and Painter (1998) have constructed a useful characterisation of public policy, identifying a shift in emphasis from hierarchies, to markets and now to collaboration. Networks, ‘joined up’ governance and partnership working are now central in both policy practice and analysis. These processes are not new, but New Labour have clearly expanded and accelerated them. For New Labour, collaborative working is now perceived as central in their response to key policy challenges: improving public services, tackling social exclusion and revitalising local democracy. These processes are now evident at all levels of policy making from supranational organisations such as the European Union down to neighbourhood-based initiatives. It appears that we are moving from the closed, unitary system of government of the Westminster model to a more open, decentralised system of governance. Our conceptions of citizenship have accordingly shifted, from one based on representation to one based on active participation, particularly within local communities. Governance is an issue which concerns all levels of government and citizen participation, from international-level World Bank concerns about commitment to efficiency and accountable government, to highly devolved localised urban regeneration partnerships.
|Number of pages||7|
|Journal||Social Policy and Society|
|Publication status||Published - 2006|