'Bringing the social back in': governance analysis as a mode of enquiry.

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This chapter makes the case for adopting a specific approach to theorising public policy governance and regulation, named ‘governance analysis’. The chapter’s argument originates from a need to ‘bring society back into’ political and politico-legal explanations of how governing is done, what it achieves and how its wider socio-political effects are realized. It argues that by bringing the social back in, that is by considering the intended and unintended social and political ordering effects of governance systematically and in their empirical specificity, we can account for processes and effects of “shaping society” more holistically. In governance analysis, then, the theorization of public policy governance and regulation is oriented towards a distinct set of enquiries and interests. These focus on explaining how relations of power and authority shape governing and regulatory practices, and on assessing the wider socio-political and socio-economic implications of these modes of exerting influence. Beyond the orientation of empirical enquiry, however, in governance analysis, the explanation and assessment are also organized by reference to a specific analytical framework. Empirically, this governance analysis framework enables us to explore the relationship of structures, processes and actors in particular situations and moments of wielding intentional societal change. Conceptually, adopting this framework facilitates the integrated theorization of regulatory conditions, contingent governing practices, their interaction and their public policy consequences over time.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSociety, Regulation and Governance
Subtitle of host publicationNew Modes of Shaping Social Change
EditorsRegine Paul, Marc Molders, Alfons Bora, Michael Huber, Peter Munte
Place of PublicationCheltenham, U. K.
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9781786438379
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jul 2017


  • governance
  • governance analysis
  • public policy


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