Brandt School Universität Erfurt

Varieties of Governance

Today’s world is experiencing a prolonged process of political, economic and social re-shuffling. On the macro-level this implies the rise of the global South and the concurrent fragilization of the global North, with new geo-political force fields and economic power configurations emerging. On the micro-level, it means that the stereotypical ‘Western’ model of state-based liberal democracy and free-market capitalism is both challenged and complemented by other forms of government, legitimation, and social integration.

All of this is cross-cut by globalization-induced phenomena that transcend the traditional taxonomies of political, geographical or cultural identity. Worldwide labor mobility and mass migration, consumptive globalization and large-scale environmental degradation are among the phenomena that have complexified the analytical matrix and have rendered conventional forms of understanding partially inadequate.

Governance has been used as the term-of-art by social scientists to describe the interaction and functioning of these elements in terms of actors, institutions, and power. Integrating a host of social-science concepts, it furnishes a framework through which the complexity of this new world in the making can be more accurately captured than through distinct disciplinary vocabularies. Yet, all too often, governance research, too, still operates within the limited horizon of the ‘Western’ ideal type and thereby risks missing the intricacies of today’s diverse governance reality.

This Research Cluster seeks to address this blind spot by placing the question of how the variation of governance forms and outcomes can be understood into the centre of the inquiry. To this end, it presumes that there is no standard model of governance providing a normative ground from which to assess divergent forms, but, instead, it presupposes the need to develop a new analytical framework through which the endogenous functionality of particular governance spheres can be grasped. Its focus is both on the macro-level and the emerging new global landscape with particular interest in emerging (BRICS/IBSA/G20) and post-conflict states as well as on the micro-level and the new parameters of governance with a particular emphasis on the transformation of law including rights, and democracy.

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