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Chapter

9. European Union agencies:  

explaining EU agency behaviour, processes, and outputs

Dovilė Rimkutė

The institutional development of EU agencies is striking. Over the past decades, forty-six EU agencies have been established to support the European Commission and member states in their regulatory and executive tasks. Today, EU agencies are a vital part of the EU’s administrative capacity. EU agencies have received considerable scholarly attention that used a myriad of theoretical approaches—ranging from institutional, organizational, and bureaucratic reputation to interest-group theories—to explain why EU agencies have been created; how they develop over time; whether they are wielders of supranational or intergovernmental power; how they legitimize themselves and cultivate a positive bureaucratic reputation; and how they form alliances or insulate themselves from specific stakeholders. This chapter reviews the rise of EU agencies and introduces a selection of theoretical perspectives that have been used by EU agency scholars to study EU-level agencification and EU agency behaviour, regulatory processes, and outputs.

Chapter

R. Daniel Kelemen and Giandomenico Majone

This chapter examines why European Union agencies have been created and what impact they are having on European governance. It begins with a discussion of theories that explain law-makersʼ design choices and the increasing popularity of European agencies, focusing on delegation and policy credibility, the politics of agency design, and legal obstacles to delegation. It then looks at the development and operation of three regulatory agencies: the European Environment Agency, the European Medicines Agency, and the European Food Safety Authority. It also considers issues regarding the EU agenciesʼ independence and accountability before concluding with an analysis of the model in which an EU agency serves as the coordinating hub of a network of national regulatory authorities.

Chapter

This chapter investigates the different senses in which the term 'development' is used. 'Development' is used in three main senses: a vision or measure of a desirable society; a historical process of social change; and deliberate efforts at improvement by development agencies. The variety of competing overall views on development can be organized into three groups according to how they see development relating to capitalism: through, against, or in the context of capitalism. The first two of these groups of views are labelled Market economics and Structuralism. A third group of views, pragmatic rather than theoretical, is termed Interventionism and concentrates on how to achieve development. Finally, there are those who reject all these views as versions of 'mainstream' development. They seek alternatives, either an alternative form of development or rejecting the development concept entirely.

Chapter

Duncan Green and Tom Kirk

This chapter evaluates agencies of development, which can be split into three broad categories: state, societal, and international actors and organizations. These categories should be understood to be overlapping and fluid. Indeed, few actors or organizations can be said to be purely international, of the state or society. Instead, most belong to and operate across multiple spheres of activity. Moreover, this boundary crossing is increasingly a requirement to get things done. Accordingly, the chapter pays attention to how different agencies interact with one another, legitimizing and delegitimizing different understandings of development in the process. It also shows how development is often driven by broad coalitions of actors and organizations working together, however contentiously, towards collective goals. The chapter concludes with a brief discussion of emerging ways of understanding and doing development that acknowledge and incorporate this approach.

Chapter

Tim Allen, Shun-Nan Chiang, and Ben Crow

This chapter focuses on hunger and famine. Chronic hunger, famine, and malnutrition are related concepts with different causes. Multiple forms of malnutrition coexisting in most countries require governing bodies to carefully design policies which consider linkages among different types of malnutrition. While 'food security' is still a popular framework to guide the interventions of development agencies and governments, other concepts help us to focus on different underlying causes of hunger. The Green Revolution helped increase global food security in some respects but made many populations more vulnerable. Meanwhile, the entitlement approach helped clarify the cause of famine in some circumstances, but recent famines are mostly a consequence of war and the choices made by governments. Famine mortality has declined dramatically, in large part because of better monitoring and more effective humanitarian assistance. However, acute hunger remains a massive problem.

Chapter

11. Conclusion  

The State of British Democracy

This concluding chapter presents a summary of the common themes and key points about British politics, which help make sense of current events, such as whether turbulence and instability now characterize British politics, and whether democracy can work well in these conditions. It provides a table containing summaries of each chapter, which relate to the themes of the book: party government and executive power, political turbulence, blunders/policy disasters, and the difficulties of achieving agency. With these and other insights, it is possible to assess whether there is anything left for traditional understandings of British democracy or whether the country is in uncharted waters, without any clearly understood democratic mechanisms and not capable of producing effective policy outcomes. Overall, how does Britain fare as a democracy with its old and new features? The chapter then looks at the debate about the quality of UK democracy.

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This chapter explores the relationship between the state and institutions and how political scientists theorize about them. It first provides an overview of the concept of institutions and the range of factors that structure political behaviour, noting how political, economic, and social factors determine particular outcomes, which are in turn influenced by ‘structure’ and ‘agency’. It then considers the multifaceted concept of the state and the rise of the European state, focusing in particular on the ways in which the European type of state and state system spread around the world between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries. The chapter goes on to discuss the modern state and some of the differences between strong states, weak states, and democratic states, suggesting that states need legitimacy and robust institutions to be strong.

Chapter

The chapter presents a short overview on social constructivism as a distinct research programme and shows what it contributes to the study of European integration. Social constructivism represents a meta-theory or an ontology, not one more substantive theory of European integration. The substantive contribution of social constructivism to the various theories of European integration is to insist on taking meaning construction, discourse, and language seriously, and to point out the mutual constitution of agency and structure. Moreover, social constructivism emphasizes the constitutive features of social institutions including the EU as not just constraining behaviour, but also affecting the identities, interests, and preferences of actors. The chapter then uses the question of European identity to illustrate empirically social constructivism ‘at work’. A constructivist account of the euro and the migration crises demonstrates that European political leaders reacted largely to the mobilization of exclusive-nationalist identities by (mostly) right-wing populist parties and movements. In sum, the social constructivist research programme in EU studies has quickly left the stage of meta-theorizing and concern for ontology and epistemology behind, and has now entered the realm of concrete empirical work dealing with real puzzles of European political life.

Chapter

Deborah Baumgold

This chapter examines Thomas Hobbes's key political ideas. After providing a short biography of Hobbes, the chapter traces the development of his political theory as articulated in the Leviathan. In particular, it considers whether Hobbism rests on the assumption of egoism and whether Hobbes's theory depends on the idea of a social contract. It also describes the sequential composition of the three versions of Hobbes's theory and shows that his basic assumption about human nature is a form of solipsism. According to Hobbes, our thinking is necessarily self-referential, which need not be equivalent to holding that we are necessarily self-interested (egoistic). The chapter concludes with a discussion of Hobbesian contractarianism, agency, and authorization as well as three strands of contractarian reasoning to illustrate the importance of the idea of consent in Hobbes's political arguments.

Chapter

20. Acting for Europe  

Reassessing the European Union’s Role in International Relations

This chapter summarizes the volume's major findings and revisits the three perspectives on the European Union: as a system of international relations, as a participant in wider international processes, and as a power in the world. It also considers the usefulness of the three main theoretical approaches in international relations as applied to the EU's external relations: realism, liberalism, and constructivism. Furthermore, it emphasizes three things which it is clear the EU is not, in terms of its international role: it is not a straightforward ‘pole’ in a multipolar system; it is not merely a subordinate subsystem of Western capitalism, and/or a province of an American world empire, as claimed by both the anti-globalization movement and the jihadists; it is not a channel by which political agency is surrendering to the forces of functionalism and globalization. The chapter concludes with an assessment of the EU's positive contributions to international politics.

Chapter

This poststructuralist chapter explores some unconventional questions about somewhat unconventional subjects for Security Studies, a field that has traditionally been more inclined to focus on states in its investigations. In particular, it examines concepts such as ‘acting subject(s)’, which concerns who or what is acting to produce security or insecurity; ‘agency’, which refers to the capacity to act; ‘subjecthood’, which suggests mastery of one’s own agency or the idea that actions are products of one’s autonomous choices; and referent object(s), which are whom or what we seek to make secure. The chapter also discusses ‘smart’ bombs and other advanced weapons of the so-called Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) that moved into popular consciousness beginning with the 1991 Gulf War. Finally, it considers the role of children and Indigenous peoples both in security discourse and actual security practices.

Chapter

This chapter examines how actors and structures make foreign policy an extremely complicated field of study and how, in view of this complexity, these actors and structures have been treated in the literature on foreign policy analysis. It first provides a historical background on the field of foreign policy before discussing the role of actors and structures in ‘process’ and ‘policy’ approaches to foreign policy. In particular, it describes approaches to foreign policy based on a structural perspective, namely: realism, neoliberal institutionalism, and social constructivism. It then considers evaluates approaches from an actor-based perspective: cognitive and psychological approaches, bureaucratic politics approach, new liberalism, and interpretative actor perspective. The chapter also looks at the agency–structure problem and asks whether an integrated framework is feasible before concluding with a recommendation of how to resolve the former in terms of a constructive answer to the latter.

Chapter

This chapter explores the central government departments, executive agencies, and other public bureaucracies in operation in the UK today, such as those in local and territorial governments. These bodies help make and implement public policies and run public services. The chapter reviews more general work on bureaucracy and public administration, and sets out the theory of politician–bureaucrat relationships (going back to the principal–agent model), before addressing the classic question of civil service influence over public policy. It then takes account of the diversity of bureaucratic organizations operating in Britain today. The chapter also looks at the evidence of how politicians manage to satisfy their political objectives through delegating authority to these bodies.