Authoritative Governance: Policy Making in the Age of Mediatization

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The role of the media has become a central part of politics and policy in the twenty-first century. That dominance has led many to suggest a trend of 'dumbing down': the privileging of style over content. In this provocative book, Maarten Hajer takes issue with the 'dumbing down' thesis both on theoretical and empirical grounds. He aims to show how authoritative governance remains possible in crisis driven circumstances and a highly 'mediatized' world.

Authoritative Governance elaborates a communicative understanding of authority, which, the author argues, can create a new basis for authoritative governance in a world marked by political and institutional fragmentation. Extending his discourse-analytical framework, Hajer uses both discursive and dramaturgical methods to study policymakers in their struggle for authority. Three detailed case studies—the plans to rebuild Ground Zero, the aftermath of the assassination of Theo Van Gogh, and the recent role of the British Food Standards Agency —provide a wealth of detail of the dynamics of authority in today's mediatized polity and bring out the peculiar role that crises now play.

The argument of Authoritative Governance is that in the age of mediatization governance needs to be 'performed'. Hajer describes a genuinely new authoritative governance that breaks with existing interpretations. He demonstrates ways in which the traditional government of standing institutions and notions of network governance can be combined in actively creating relations with a variety of publics.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Hajer encourages scholars of politics, policy, and communication to rethink the nature of authority in mediated democracies and illuminates the key dilemma of authority in our age. Political authority is no longer conveyed by large numbers of citizens on the basis of shared memberships and allegiances. It is constructed through complex media performances aimed at multiple fragmenting audiences."—Lance Bennett, Professor of Political Science and Professor of Communication, University of Washington-Seattle

"Authoritative Governance shows it's not so much that politicians have suddenly become more democratic, but rather the old vestments of election, party, and expertise fail to confer legitimacy; they are struggling to constantly re-create the authority they need to govern. Hajer's new book is a must-read for students of authority who want to understand real responses to contemporary legitimation crises and for policy-makers facing distrustful publics."—Archon Fung, Associate Professor of Public Policy, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

"Maarten Hajer's stories of politicians as performers enacting dramas that imbue governance with meaning open novel and exciting ways of understanding how authoritative governance is possible."—Rod Rhodes, Professor of Government, University of Tasmania and Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Research School of Social Sciences, Australian National University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199281671
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 10/11/2009
  • Pages: 274
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Maarten A. Hajer is Professor of Public Policy at the University of Amsterdam and Director of the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency. He is the author of the celebrated The Politics of Environmental Discourse (OUP 1995).

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Table of Contents

1. The Authority Problem of Governance, Maarten Hajer
2. A Framework for Analysis, Maarten Hajer
3. Performing Authority after the Assassination of Theo Van Gogh, Maarten Hajer with Justus Uitermark
4. Contested Authority in Rebuilding Ground Zero, Maarten Hajer
5. Authority through Deliberative Governance: the British Food Standards Agency in Action, Maarten Hajer with David Laws and Wytske Versteeg
6. The Paradox of Authority in a Mediatized Politics, Maarten Hajer

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