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What is Governance

Political Science
Course Code
POL 1102
Pierre Martel

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-A term relating to the activity of governing.
-A process or a specific part of management or leadership processes.
-Governance does NOT mean government (as in democratic public institution).
-Sometimes people set up a government to administer these processes, mechanisms and systems.
-Precise meaning in the social sciences still elusive. May mean many and quite different things.
-Leading to confusion? Confusing as a concept for the social sciences?
-Identified and associated with the exercise of power in the modern world.
-Related to sovereignty, nation, democracy.
-Often, a specific form is attached: 1) Rule of Law
2) Division/ Separation of Power
-Empirical Evidence: Other forms of government exist besides “democracy”.
Even without Government, the world is “organized”. There is “direction”.
Origins of Governance
-Urban Studies
-Corporate Governance
-Focus is not the state, but the organized system.
-But the concept came back to the state/political sphere through the International Financial Institutions
(IFIs) with Good Governance (GG).
-GG is a buzzword, an omnibus that was very present in the 1990s. It seems to encompass the whole of
social power transformations.
-The French seem reticent to embrace the concept. Some prefer “gouvernementalite”.
Sovereignty is NOT the organizing principle.
-No particular institutional form is associated with governance, by opposition to government.
-Partnership, proximity, animation, networks, groups, coalitions, etc.
Governance is a theme and a concept. It is descriptive and prescriptive (normative). It encompasses
international and internal order. The idea and role of the state itself impacted because it supercedes,
reforms, redefines and forces adaptation.
-It is often used as a passing fad without precision.
Governance is a regulating method or mechanism. Actors make decisions and act through negotiation
and co-operation.
-Actors sufficiently independent so that no one can impose by itself.
-Actors sufficiently interdependent to have common interest in solution.
Global Governance
For Theorists and Analysts:
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