Academic journal article Theological Studies

Subsidiarity Governance: Theoretical and Empirical Models

Academic journal article Theological Studies

Subsidiarity Governance: Theoretical and Empirical Models

Article excerpt

SUBSIDIARITY GOVERNANCE: THEORETICAL AND EMPIRICAL MODELS. Edited by Alessandro Colombo. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. Pp. xix + 176. $90.

The book is one of a small but growing number of texts that explore the European experience of a model of governance inspired by the philosophical principle of subsidiarity. The principle is defined as a "theory of social responsibility that recognizes the priority of the smallest units of society, while ensuring against interference from excessive government intervention" (136). It entails, first, a "vertical" meaning in which higher/larger institutions protect lower/ smaller ones by either helping them or by preserving their autonomy; and second, a "horizontal" meaning in which social services are shared between public and private bodies, and the integrity of society is acknowledged as distinct from the state. Subsidiarity is thus "associated with three characteristics: pluralistic supply; freedom of consumer choice (via accreditation of competing providers and conferring purchasing power on users); and fiscal autonomy (based on coupons, vouchers and endowments, and tax exemptions and allowances)" (136-37). The principle of subsidiarity is linked to Catholic social tradition, particularly the articulation advanced by Pope Pius XI's encyclical Quadragesimo anno (1931). …

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