Petrella F. (2009) In: Enjolras B., Sivesind K.-H. (eds.) Civil Society in Comparative Perspective (Comparative Social Research, Volume 26), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp.25-48.
Over the past few decades, the subject of governance has come to the fore in many public discussions, notably with regard to reforms of the social protection system. Without entering into various debates the concept has generated, we shall use it in its positive sense (Gilly, Leroux, & Wallet, 2004), to designate all of the interactions between various public and private actors in the elaboration and implementation of public policies to attain shared objectives of general interest (Enjolras, 2008; Le Galès, 1998). Governance thus reflects a change in the forms of collective action – which certainly would qualify as modernisation – and the growing importance granted to management strategies in this change. It also brings out the complexity of the interrelationships between the different levels of decision-making (horizontal and vertical), which might be characterised as ‘poly-governance’ (Eme, 2005). And governance also permits a simultaneous approach to the new territorial, productive and partnership arrangements emerging in response to the different levels of constraints and socio-demographic changes. These issues lie at the heart of the transformations of the welfare state and related policies for rationalising public intervention and stabilising public finances. Studies dealing with welfare mix and welfare pluralism (Evers & Svetlik, 1993; Esping-Andersen, 1999; Ascoli & Ranci, 2002; Pestoff, 2006; Richez-Battesti, 2008) bring out different ways of combining sources of risk protection or other forms of solidarity. Such research reinforces analyses of co-ordination, as well as those of management and decision-making.