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Workshop 3 Report


Research questions arising from the ‘critical governance studies’ workshop held on 18th March 2008

Posed by Paul du Gay

·         Should we be re-asserting a Hobbesian-Pufendorfian case for the state in our studies of contemporary governance?

·         Or, despite the implicit/explicit anti-statism of network theories, do actual ‘governing networks’ signify the extension of ‘Leviathan’

·         Or, as Paul put it, ‘Why is the security state the default setting of the liberal state’?


Posed by Janet Newman

·         Warwick is one of the centres of ‘orthodox’ governance studies. To what extent, can a critical kulturkampf be launched from the centre?  That is, if we the problem, can we be the solution?

·         Do we want to produce a new orthodoxy, or facilitate the conditions in which a critical heterodoxy can flourish?

·         When should critics engage with ‘power’ (a similar issue to that posed by Jean Hartley’s distinction between ‘propositional’ and ‘oppositional’ critique)?


Raised during the plenary

·         How does ‘romantic’?? critique produce its exact opposite: technocratic managerialism?


Report from citizens group: Helen Sullivan

·         What is a citizen?  When/how do citizens adopt situational ‘personas’?  Is this something to do with the reflexive personality?

·         If ‘invited’ or ‘state’ spaces invoke constraint and confinement, can citizens nevertheless take advantage of them?

·         Are good-active citizens ‘compliant joiners’? 

·         Can we unpack the politics informing the practice of citizenship – e.g. senses of nationhood, publicness etc?

·         How do developments in contemporary capitalism – e.g. neoliberalism – impact upon the destruction and re-construction of citizen identities (e.g. as good neighbours, as workers, as occupants of public realms)?

·         Should we challenge the hegemonic narrative of ‘atomization’ or ‘individualization theory’, which underpins contemporary governance strategies and network theories?

·         How can alternative citizen spaces be created, occupied and sustained, particularly in light of the ‘colonization’ problematic posed by Habermas.

·         Where instances of ‘good’ collaborative governance are found, how are the requisite institutional rules and norms produced and sustained? 


Report from money group (Yuval Millo)

·         We need to think about how ‘financialization’ changes citizenship; e.g. surveillance, the extension of market logics.

·         What to ‘number narratives’ mean to the public? E.g. the impact of Northern Rock ‘billions’ in the public mind?

·         Who controls the presentation of financial policy’?  The ‘new mandarins’ don’t present policy to the public as it is. Understanding the financialization of public policy?

·         Need to think about knowledge ‘in or of’ money.  E.g. who now has any knowledge about how to do nationalization?  Do today’s traders have any personal or institutional memory of the last crash? 

·         Narratives on the cyclical character of economics are problematic (e.g. weather metaphors used to ‘naturalise’ the boom-slump character of capitalism). 

Report from space group (Daniel Wincott)

·         The group suggested that the study of space has tended to have a default critical dimension to it.  There is a need to focus more on the temporal dimension; e.g. the orthodoxies around the historical development of the nation state.  We forget to remember that we work with such orthodoxies.

·         We need to confront ‘pre-histories of the present’ critically (e.g. narratives on pre-Thatcherite political economy, the ‘old public management’ etc).

·         How do we work with/interrogate spatial concepts like scale, place, territory, space, agora, fronteers, boundaries. 

·         Be aware of the continual emergence of new analytical problems; e.g. problematizing the ‘global’.

Closing plenary

·      We should be looking to confront the epochal generalizations about ‘change’; e.g. atomization, the knowledge society, etc.

·      Alternatively, one might focus on the routine; e.g. explore day-to-day narratives around the ‘security state’?  E.g. study the macro through the micro?

·      What is the significance of the growing ‘need’ for financial expertise in the spheres of public management?