GOVERNANCE AS CIVIL SERVANT PRACTICE(S) A theoretical and analytical contribution

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

The paper takes a point of departure in the contemporary focus on co-production governance regimes such as New Public Management and New Public Governance. It discusses the foundation of many governance studies and the way in which a distinction between governor and governed is either taken for granted or argued to be omnipresent, and thus often left out of the understanding.
To circumvent this shortcoming, it is argued that the Althusserian concept of interpellation installs a necessary connection between a superior Subject – often understood as ‘the state’ – and dependent subjects. Drawing on Hegel’s concept of ‘the universal class’ (der allgemeine Stand), and deploying the ethnologically-based state and life-mode theory, which comprises a further elaboration of Althusser’s understanding, it is argued that a state subject can comprise a coherent and resilient whole – attaining recognition both externally in the state system, and internally vis-à-vis its population – only by encompassing a viable civil servant life-mode. It is the civil servant life mode that integrates the complex task of combining the different and often opposing interests of a society into a sufficiently joint unity able to maintain both external and internal recognition. The paper elaborates three dimensions of civil servant practices: a policy-developing dimension, an operationalizing dimension, and a policy-implementing dimension. Although these dimensions are often in conflict with each other, they are also mutually interdependent and equally necessary. The three dimensions are not connected to any particular governance regime, but will be differently manifest in these. Moreover, the three dimensions are not necessarily realized by public employees. They can also be realized by private actors or other stakeholders, which often occurs in activities informed under a New Public Governance regime. The article presents two such NPG projects in order to show how these governance processes operate.
Original languageDanish
JournalEthnologia Europaea
Number of pages30
ISSN0425-4597
Publication statusSubmitted - 2020

ID: 250617859