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What is New About Governance and Why Does it Matter?


Rhodes, RAW, What is New About Governance and Why Does it Matter?, Governing Europe, Oxford University Press, J Hayward and A Menon (ed), Oxford, pp. 61-73. ISBN 0-19-925015-4 (2003) [Research Book Chapter]

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DOI: doi:10.1093/0199250154.001.0001


This chapter defends the ‘private patois of political science’, revisiting the notions of: governance, the core executive, hollowing out, and the differentiated polity. There are already formal academic statements aplenty.1 I want to provide an informal guide to one way of understanding British government; to what we are trying to understand and how we understand it. I do so because I am convinced the old vocabulary for describing Westminster and Whitehall is at best a partial description of how British government works.We need a new language to capture the changes which have and are taking place. And here lies both a puzzle and a danger. The puzzle is that the new vocabulary is not acceptable until approved by everyday use but it cannot be so approved until we start using it. The danger in this defence is that I simplify the ideas to make them clear to the point where I do not accept my own analysis. In defending this patois, my objective is not to repair the wounded pride of political science. It matters how we understand British government. Such understandings are not the privilege of the chattering classes. If our existing map of our institutions and how they work is faulty, we mislead citizens and undermine representative democracy. Such maps are about how we are governed and politicians with faulty maps will make promises they cannot keep, not because they are venal, but because, unwittingly, they travel in the wrong direction. I am trying to make corrections to the existing map of British government so citizens and politicians alike know what journeys they can and cannot take.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Policy and administration
Research Field:Public administration
Objective Division:Law, Politics and Community Services
Objective Group:Government and politics
Objective Field:Government and politics not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Rhodes, RAW (Professor Rod Rhodes)
ID Code:58797
Year Published:2003
Deposited By:Government
Deposited On:2009-10-29
Last Modified:2010-07-20

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