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New Modes of Governance and the Participatory Myth

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One of the most common arguments about 'new governance' is that it is characterised by heterarchy rather than by hierarchy, creating horizontal modes of governance among a multitude of actors - public and private - involving all relevant stakeholders. Often implicitly and sometimes explicitly, this argument is linked with a normative democratic claim that praises the particular participatory features of 'new governance' as compared to 'old governance'. Using as a case study European occupational health and safety policy, characterised by a shift from 'old' to 'new governance' since the 1990s, this article warns us that one should be very reluctant in making normative claims on new governance. The analysis of new governance modes such as comitology, agency networking, and social dialogue in this field shows that more horizontal and heterarchical governance does not mean automatically more participatory governance in terms of involving civil society actors and all stakeholders.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 2008

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