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Polycentrism: How Governing Works Today

How does governing work today, and how does society (mis)handle pressing challenges in ways that are democratic, effective, fair, peaceful, and sustainable? This volume addresses these key questions with reference to the theme of polycentrism.

Jan Aart Scholte, Frank Gadinger
25 May 2023
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Polycentrism focuses on the idea that contemporary governing is dispersed, fluctuating, messy, elusive, and headless. This book develops this notion of polycentrism from the perspectives of a broad spectrum of academic disciplines and theoretical approaches, offering comprehensive coverage of exciting new thinking about how today's world is (mis)ruled.

The book identifies four paradigms of knowledge about polycentric governing - organizational, legal, relational, and structural - and pursues conversations across the divides that normally keep these approaches within separate research communities. These inter-paradigm exchanges focus particularly on issues of techniques (how governing is done), power (what forces drive governing), and legitimacy (whether governing is rightful). Comparisons between the multiple perspectives on polycentric governing highlight, and help to clarify, the distinctive emphases, potentials, and limitations of each approach.

In addition, various combinations of the different theories generate promising novel avenues of thought about polycentrism. The book allows readers to develop and refine their own understandings of governing today and hence to become more empowered political subjects.

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