Understanding the Drama of Democracy. Policy Work, Power and Transformation
When: 5 – 7 July 2012
Where: Tilburg (the Netherlands)
Organisation: Tilburg University
Civil organizations, citizens groups, businesses, and experts in contemporary democracies face unique challenges. Where public agents and academic experts once secured legitimacy and authority through the formal arrangements of government and the scientific practice; these arrangements no longer are sufficient as they are more and more negotiated in interactions. This shift is captured in the growing interest in “governance” which involves governing among diverse political actors.
Public officials, politicians, citizens, professionals and entrepreneurs bring in their own expertise and resources to the public sphere. In the age of mediatisation, network governance, and multi level governance, all public agents, including government officials and academic experts, must now be credible, in addition to being legally legitimated and effective. In such an environment, policy work and its evaluation are not only established through formal positions and legal responsibilities, but are also negotiated through the policy practices of civil organizations, experts, journalists and the general public. This challenges actors involved to cross boundaries, to learn, transform, to deal with constantly alternating power relations, and to be perceived as authentic or trustworthy.
The performative dimension of democracy is increasingly important. This challenges actors involved to cross boundaries, to learn, to transform, to deal with constantly alternating power relations, and to be perceived as authentic or trustworthy. It also challenges interpretive research to study how public actors perform in practice and suggests a need to pay attention to action-oriented and language-oriented dimensions of practice. Moreover, a focus on performance raises questions about the role of interpretive research in the mediation and transformation of different meanings and in creating or supporting policy learning.
The panels and papers of this conference addressed these challenges of public agents and other actors. They studied the “drama” of democracy by examining questions such as:
Panels on other interpretive themes were also welcome. The conference featured full paper-based panels, roundtables and practice workshops. Also up to three conference sessions were devoted to methodology workshops. The conference was preceded by a pre-conference course.
Laurens de Graaf
Gabriel van den Brink
Merlijn van Hulst