Rebuilding Government (21347). 3 units. Confidence in the capacity of large, administrative bureaucracies to deliver services or make effective rules is long gone. A partial response was the turn to market-mimicking mechanisms such as cap-and-trade systems and vouchers. More recently doubt has extended to the ability of individuals to make rationally self-interested decisions in markets. The resigned response is to “nudge.”
The premise of this seminar is that alongside these developments, and often obscured by them, there is emerging a form of post-bureaucratic service provision and regulation in the United States, the European Union, and in some transnational regimes. The forward-looking or dynamic accountability afforded by these institutions encourages local experimentation while allowing for rapid correction of failure and the generalization of success. New governance of this kind systematically provokes doubt about its own assumptions and practices by comparing different approaches to advancing shared, general aims. It works. Institutions that embody it can help restore confidence that a modern state can help citizens address risks that they cannot bear alone.
The seminar will establish the theoretical foundations for these claims. Case studies of post-bureaucratic service provision (child welfare, K-12 schooling, and policing) and regulation (food safety, off-shore drilling for oil and gas, financial markets) develop and substantiate the core ideas. The concluding sessions present reasons for and against the claim that these emergent institutions can be a key component in the renewal of the welfare state and representative democracy. There is attention throughout to ways in which the new forms of accountability inherent in post-bureaucracy are reshaping the roles of the legislature and courts. Students will be required to prepare a seminar-length paper either assessing the ideas presented, applying them to an area of interest, or showing why developments in a particular domain are counterexamples. Paper required. Enrollment capped at fifteen. C. Sabel.