Multilevel Governance and Participation: Interpreting Democracy in EU-programmes
Nousiainen, M., & Mäkinen, K. (2015). Multilevel Governance and Participation: Interpreting Democracy in EU-programmes. European Politics and Society, 16 (2), 208-223. doi:10.1080/23745118.2014.986970
Published inEuropean Politics and Society
© 2014 Taylor & Francis. Published in this repository with the kind permission of the publisher.
This article offers an ethnographically oriented, interpretive approach for the research into the democratic qualities of multilevel governance (MLG). The complex and networked MLG arrangements, such as the European Union's (EU) participatory policy practices, are changing the traditional roles of public administration and politics in ways we cannot yet fully foresee. Especially, the impact on democracy is subject to debate. With two case studies, this article seeks to shift the focus of the discussion on the democratic possibilities of MLG from theoretical analysis to empirical research into local and mundane experiences concerning EU policy implementation. The cases studied are the rural development programme LEADER and the youth policy programme Youth in Action. The studies suggest that the participation of NGOs or individual citizens cannot automatically be seen as a counterbalance to administration since the participants seem capable of adopting technocratic or administrative identities and roles. In addition, participatory practices may be geared to impact on the participants instead of functioning as their democratic opportunity to impact on governance. Therefore, this article suggests that the assessments of democracy should not only concentrate on the formal status of the participants: a credible democratic legitimation requires both the possibility and the will to act politically. ...