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Governance and Metagovernance: On Reflexivity, Requisite Variety, and Requisite Irony.

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter


Publication date04/2003
Host publicationGovernance, as Social and Political Communication
EditorsHenrik Paul Bang
Place of PublicationManchester
PublisherManchester University Press
Number of pages31
ISBN (Print)0719061547
<mark>Original language</mark>English


There has been growing interest in the past twenty years or so in the potential contribution of new forms of governance to solving co-ordination problems in and across a wide range of specialised social systems (such as the economy, the legal system, the political system, and the health system) and in the lifeworld (or, broadly understood, civil society). This interest is reflected in growing ambiguities about the meaning of governance. For the purposes of this contribution, however, I adopt a relatively narrow definition of governance. Thus governance is defined as the reflexive self-organisation of independent actors involved in complex relations of reciprocal interdependence, with such self-organisation being based on continuing dialogue and resource-sharing to develop mutually beneficial joint projects and to manage the contradictions and dilemmas inevitably involved in such situations. Governance organised on this basis need not entail a complete symmetry in power relations or complete equality in the distribution of benefits: indeed, it is highly unlikely to do so almost regardless of the object of governance or the �stakeholders� who actually participate in the governance process. All that is involved in this preliminary definition is the commitment on the part of those involved to reflexive self-organisation in the face of complex reciprocal interdependence.