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Governing Modern Societies

Governing Modern Societies

Richard V. Ericson
Nico Stehr
Copyright Date: 2000
  • Book Info
    Governing Modern Societies
    Book Description:

    The essays collected inGoverning Modern Societiesarose from a lecture series of the same name held at Green College, University of British Columbia, in 1997 and 1998.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7545-2
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. 1 The Ungovernability of Modern Societies: States, Democracies, Markets, Participation, and Citizens
    (pp. 3-26)

    This book examines transformations as well as projected future trends in the governance of contemporary societies. It brings together scholars in the disciplines of political science, philosophy, sociology, and economics from Canada, the United States, England, Germany, and Australia. In the chapters they have written especially for this volume, they advance not only the most recent theories of how modern societies are governed, but also the ideological and policy relevance of these theories.

    The chapters in this book are organized according to three broad themes: globalization and governance (Part One), modern regimes of governance (Part Two), and prospects for social...

  5. Part One: Globalization and Governance

    • Introduction
      (pp. 29-41)

      In Part One, David Held, David Elkins, and Warren Magnusson address core features of globalization and their implications for governance. David Held provides conceptual clarifications and analytical distinctions for more refined analyses of globalization and democratic government. David Elkins and Warren Magnusson offer sustained critiques of particular conceptions of globalization and their implications for governance. Prior to discussing each of these contributions, it is important that we clarify key issues in globalization and governance.

      Modern societies are characterized by an awareness that government is not, and will not be, what it used to be, even in the recent past. This...

    • 2 The Changing Contours of Political Community: Rethinking Democracy in the Context of Globalization
      (pp. 42-59)

      Political communities are in the process of being transformed. Of course, transformation can take many forms. But one type of transformation is of particular concern in this discussion: the progressive enmeshment of human communities with each other. Over the last few centuries, human communities have come into increasing contact with each other; their collective fortunes have become intertwined. I want to dwell on this and its implications.

      My focus in this analysis is on the changing nature of political community in the context of the growing interconnectedness of states and societies – in short, globalization. This chapter is divided into...

    • 3 Thinking Global Governance and Enacting Local Cultures
      (pp. 60-79)

      Many commentators on the ‘new global order’ imply or explicitly state that local cultures will evolve into one global culture sometimes referred to dismissively as ‘McCulture.’ Others argue to the contrary that ‘the clash of civilizations’ will ensure that one hybrid culture is an extremely remote possibility. A variant of each position might lead to the prediction that, while small or weak or isolated cultures may disappear, a few major cultures may consolidate and survive indefinitely. ‘Culture’ in these scenarios has several possible meanings, including customs and way of life, religion, language, society, country, and nation.

      This chapter argues that,...

    • 4 Hyperspace: A Political Ontology of the Global City
      (pp. 80-104)

      The puzzles that inspire this book are ontological. We no longer know what might be involved in governing modern societies, because we can no longer tell what a society is, we are no longer sure whether we are still (or ever were) modern, and we can no longer say where governance ends and freedom begins.

      If ‘the state’ were secure, we would not be so puzzled. The state is supposed to make society orderly and to set bounds between one society and the next. It is also supposed to organize governance. The state is a mark of modernity. It rationalizes...

  6. Part Two: Modern Regimes of Governance

    • Introduction
      (pp. 107-117)

      In Part Two, Barry Hindess, Nikolas Rose, and Claus Offe ground the broader theoretical concerns of this book in specific aspects of modern regimes of governance. They each focus on governance as population management, albeit with markedly different emphases.

      Barry Hindess joins Warren Magnusson in observing that each of the concepts in the title of this book is troublesome. Hindess’s approach is to problematize these concepts through a critique of Foucault’s theories of governance. Foucault’s focus was on the government of populations as it occurred within states as distinct territories. This focus exemplifies the sovereignty-thinking addressed by Magnusson. In Foucault’s...

    • 5 Divide and Govern
      (pp. 118-140)

      The title of the lecture series that led to this book, ‘Governing Modern Societies,’ brings together three contentious terms, each of which invites extended discussion. However, my contribution focuses only on the first and last of them, allowing no more than a few passing comments on the problematic character of the second. My discussion of ‘governing’ and of ‘societies’ draws, as many recent discussions have done, on Michel Foucault’s studies of governmental rationalities, and especially on those relating to government of the state. The elements of his work on which I wish to build are to be found, first, in...

    • 6 Governing Liberty
      (pp. 141-176)

      In 1936, Luther Gullick, director of the Institute of Public Administration, contributed an introduction to a study of liquor control in the United States.¹ In it he wrote:

      With few exceptions all governmental work involves the performance of a service, the exercise of a control, or the execution of a task, not at the center of government, but at thousands of points scattered more or less evenly throughout the country or wherever the citizens or their interests may be. The real work of government is not to be found behind the Greek columns of public buildings. It is rather on...

    • 7 ‘Homogeneity’ and Constitutional Democracy: Can We Cope with Identity Conflicts through Group Rights?
      (pp. 177-212)

      In this chapter I explore some ancient issues of political theory in the light of some social and cultural issues of the contemporary world. More specifically, I develop a checklist of the virtues and vulnerabilities of constitutional democracy (Part I); discuss some types and symptoms of difference, conflict, fragmentation, and heterogeneity (Part II); and end with a critical review of a particular type of strategies and institutional solutions – namely, political group rights – that are often thought of as promising devices to strengthen the virtues and overcome the vulnerabilities of the regime form of constitutional democracy (Part III). Much...

  7. Part Three: Prospects for Social Democracy

    • Introduction
      (pp. 215-224)

      In Part Three, Ronald Beiner, Dietrich Rueschemeyer, Anthony Atkinson, and Edward Broadbent focus on social rights and the prospects for greater economic equality in the context of new forms of governance. Recognizing the substantial continuing impact of economic globalization, they contemplate how social democracies can respond through social rights and welfare.

      Ronald Beiner provides a normative analysis of how global capitalism is eroding the discrete decision-making powers of political communities to determine their own destinies. He fears that global capitalism is invading the political domain to the point where that domain’s ability to provide for the collective determination of priorities...

    • 8 Is Social Democracy Dead?
      (pp. 225-241)

      We live, we are told unceasingly, in an era of globalization. What globalization means, fundamentally, is the triumph of capitalism. And since this triumph is by definition global rather than local, it is a triumph from which there is no escape. Globalization means that the capacity of all states to determine their own economic and social destiny inexorably declines, and decisions about social and economic policy are increasingly dictated by imperatives of transnational markets in a way that is not likely to favour egalitarian or social-democratic outcomes. What’s left of the hope for social democracy (let alone socialism) in the...

    • 9 Democracy and Social Inequality
      (pp. 242-258)

      These days, democracy seems to be on a roll. And it appears that it goes well with free-market economies as well as with a build-down of welfare states. In fact, many see capitalism and democracy as two sides of the same coin – capitalist democracy or democratic capitalism. This capitalist democracy, it seems, is conquering the world – except, perhaps for the time being, China and many Islamic countries.

      Given this much-hailed, for some even euphoric, picture, you might think it takes a spoiler to talk about ‘Democracy and Social Inequality.’ It does take, perhaps, a spoiler to remind us...

    • 10 Can Welfare States Compete in a Global Economy?
      (pp. 259-275)

      In the past few years, many economists have argued that advanced economies with sizeable welfare states cannot compete in a global economy. This argument has been taken up with enthusiasm by the popular press, with such headlines as that in theEconomist– ‘Farewell, welfare’ – and articles such as that inNewsweek– ‘Dismantling Europe’s Welfare State’ – in which they said that

      the panoply of social programs, benefits and protections designed to cushion Europeans from the harshest effects of their capitalist economies have become enormously expensive and, in some cases, their consequences extremely perverse. As a result, many...

    • 11 Social Justice and Citizenship: Dignity, Liberty, and Welfare
      (pp. 276-296)

      When I was a student many years ago, I was inspired by Albert Camus. Unlike many intellectuals such as Jean-Paul Sartre, he was critical of the Soviet Union’s denial of political freedom. But unlike so many others in the West during the Cold War, Camus refused to say that we must choose political freedom over economic justice. There was, he rightly contended, a necessary reciprocity between the two. Speaking to a group of workers in the early 1950s, he said: ‘If someone takes away your bread, he suppresses your freedom at the same time. But if someone takes away your...

  8. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 297-298)