A Genealogy of Government. On Governance, Transparency and Partnership in the European Union

Cajvaneanu, Doina (2011) A Genealogy of Government. On Governance, Transparency and Partnership in the European Union. PhD thesis, University of Trento.

PDF - Doctoral Thesis


This dissertation provides an alternative explanation to innovation in government, understood as the emergence of new methods and forms of governing. Existing accounts of innovation in government focus on factors such as technological developments, cultural change, the spread of the neo-liberal ideology, and the effects of globalization on the state’s capacity to govern. This thesis introduces a further element of explanation by arguing that innovation in government depends upon knowledge produced by the social sciences, especially economics, in recent decades. The social sciences inform the act of governing by generating new understandings of social reality, of how it can be acted upon and transformed, of the goals, objects, subjects, and means of government as a specific human activity. This influence is particularly visible in the conceptual field. In order to show the impact of the social scientific knowledge on government, this thesis examines the European Union as a case study. Government in the EU is often considered an epitome of new modes of governance and a sui generis phenomenon. By tracing three of the EU’s key concepts—“governance”, “transparency”, and “partnership” —through a combination of genealogical and conceptual history tools, this study shows that practices of government that are often considered innovative in the EU emerged elsewhere and their rise and spread have been supported by developments in social scientific theories such as neo-institutional economics. This approach to government articulates three fields of further inquiry. Firstly, at the methodological level, it shows how a synthesis of genealogical and conceptual history tools generates a wide range of unexplored insights into practices of government. Secondly, in EU studies, it demonstrates the weaknesses of analyzing government in the EU as sui generis thus preventing the pursuit of a more productive inquiry into the premises and manifestations of governing in the EU. Thirdly, by showing the considerable role of economic thought in shaping our current rationality of government, it outlines a research field into the effects associated with the predominance of the economic themes in the current reflections upon practices of government.

Item Type:Doctoral Thesis (PhD)
Doctoral School:International Studies
PhD Cycle:XXI
Subjects:Area 14 - Scienze politiche e sociali
Repository Staff approval on:06 May 2011 12:17

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