Reconsidering Rationales for Local Self-Government – Impacts of Contemporary Changes in Local Decision-Making

“The paper concludes that the well-established rationales for local self-government and local democracy need to be reconsidered by taking into account these new decision-making structures.”

This paper discusses two contemporary trends in local decision-making. Firstly, there seems to be more centralised decision-making today than before in important policy fields such as welfare policy. Secondly, informal governance processes outside formal government structures open up for a substantial influence from non-elected political actors.

The paper asserts that there is a connection between the trends, and argues that the centralisation tendencies in welfare issues might affect and encourage governance processes in other local policy arenas. These policy fields are mainly within the so-called ‘developmental policies’ that often facilitate more networking and partnership activities in ‘grey areas’ between the public, private and civil sectors in collective problem solving. Accordingly, more attention should be given to policy fields where governance networks operate, and the implications for revitalising democratic political participation should be studied.

Published in Lex Localis-journal of Local Self-government | Rolv Lyngstad | 2010,,