On the Democracy and Relevance of Governance Networks. The case of Ostrobothnia, Finland

Kenneth Nordberg

Abstract


The essential issue in this article is the relevance of the output of governance networks and the impact this relevance has on the democratic qualities of the network. The indifference for political participation is an urgent problem in contemporary societies, and as a consequence new forms of participation have been advocated by researchers and politicians. Examples can be found in the model for regional development of the European Union, which presupposes involvement of local actors, and in the research field of deliberative democracy, through which the practice of citizen juries has become increasingly frequent in political decision making. By investigating a specific governance network for regional planning in the region of Ostrobothnia in Finland, the article want to draw attention to the relevance of the output of such networks and the impact this relevance has on its possibilities for positive democratic contribution. The study compares the network operations with democratic ideals found in governance network theory and deliberative democracy theory. The contrast between casual conversation and discussions for deciding crucial issues becomes a central point for understanding the impact of relevance. The article suggests that a policy network cannot be democratic until its output is relevant, and this may be done through increasing publicity.


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Scandinavian Journal of Public Administration

School of Public Administration, Box 712 - SE-405 30 Göteborg

ISSN: 2001-7405, E-ISSN: 2001-7413