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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Ruminating (pondering the cud)....

[Rumination, according to the on-line dictionary, involves pondering and meditation. It also means the "process of shewing cud."

I like the contrast and will attempt to live up to both meanings in what follows. The reader will no doubt have mixed feelings if deciding to read on -- the choice is between the boredom of "watching" me ponder or the disgust of watching "cud" being chewed....]

Although my scholarly focus and obsession is with accountability, my attention has shifted increasingly to governance, the idea being that the importance and relevance of accountability is found in the context provided by our current and historical efforts to establish and sustain governance. But what is governance?

Some folks treat the term as just another way of talking about government per se, while others approach it as institutionalized forms of control. It involves those things and more, however, and I am leaning toward a view that extends the ethical perspective expressed in Foucault ("taking care of the self") to the collective level in two ways by viewing governance as the (1) the adoption of technologies of the collective self (as an organic whole greater than the parts) and (2) the care we take of our individual selves in collective efforts (a more pluralistic notion).

In hindsight, I now see this coming out in some of my earlier work on accountability that stressed it as a means for managing the multiple, diverse and conflicting expectations we all face, but which are especially the burden of public administrators and (I would now argue) those engaged in governance. Governance in the form a various types of accountability emerges as those folks become subject to the pressures and pulls of moral communities -- political, legal, organizational, professional.

It is time for me to revisit that work and play with in in light of my slow re-education in critical theory....

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