Polycentrism: How Governing Works Today

The motivation for this book project is provoked by a question that is, both, compact in its formulation and sweeping in its implications: How are we being governed today? Connect to the Internet and communicate with more than half of humanity across the planet: what rules make that possible; who is watching; and to what end? Migration flows: what, if anything, is regulating the mess? Climate change: how is it being (mis)managed, by whom, and why? Peacebuilding: how to advance the process when, seemingly, everyone is involved and no one is in charge?  

The same questions can be applied to cultural heritage, educational standards, financial stability, health care, labour conditions, research evaluation, sexual mores, trade policy – indeed, pretty well anything in contemporary society. These questions have attracted much creative thought across disciplines and perspectives. However, the various approaches have rarely come into a cross-fertilizing conversation with one another. This book aspires to create such a dialogue around the core notion of polycentric governing, as well as around more specific themes of techniques, power, and legitimacy. The chapter distinguishes four broad streams of theorizing polycentric governing: institutional, socio-legal, structural, and relational. This fourfold categorization also informs the four-part organization of the book.

Keywords Polycentric Governing, Power, Legitimacy, Techniques, Transdisciplinary Dialogue