The Problem of Reconciliation of New Public Governance and Postmodernism: The Conditions of Returning to Communitarianism

By Raksnys, Adomas Vincas; Guogis, Arvydas et al. | Trames, December 2015 | Go to article overview

The Problem of Reconciliation of New Public Governance and Postmodernism: The Conditions of Returning to Communitarianism


Raksnys, Adomas Vincas, Guogis, Arvydas, Minkevicius, Aleksandras, Trames


1. Introduction

Each historic period is distinguished for a unique entirety of cultural ideas, values and forms of life, which inevitably appear in various layers of the society, public institutions, private sector organizations, and the structures of individuals' consciousness. The epoch of postmodernism is an opposition to modern values, realism, wholeness, synthesis, rationality, positivism, stability, consumption, relativism, universalism, clarity, identity and authority. Therefore, in the current Western cultural environment there is a lack of trust in meta-narratives, consumerism,

relativism, simulacra universal uncertainty, the fragmentation of the society and erosion of authorities and identity (Lyotard 1984, Bauman 2007, Baudrillard 1998, Sorgner 2007). This environment is especially important during the transformation of public administration models, when the priorities of state governance are being changed, along with the functioning of the institutions, the decision taking processes and civil service systems. In the context of the formation of a normative, democratic discourse of new public governance, public sector institutions, as a mechanism for the implementation of public policy, both together face the needs and the provisions of the postmodern society, ambivalent forms of thinking and life, which could become a threat to the formation of new public governance principles and their practical implementation.

On the other hand, it is essential to note that one can notice the trends of reintegration and restructurization of traditional ideologies in postmodernism. In a consumerist, fragmented society, with the predominating sense of universal uncertainty, individualism and competition (each person's fight against everybody else and together against all), one should emphasize the return of communitarianism as ideology. This can be confirmed by the theory of tribal (communal) marketing that became popular in the private sector, which is oriented towards the creation of a consumerist society. Taking into consideration the fact that the process of modernization of public sector is an integral part of integrating good practice of the private sector into state governance, in this case the aim is to show that communitarianism could conform to the current postmodern environment, the needs of contemporary society and to be also integrated into the system of public administration, as a value of new public governance that is being formed (this would be a priority component both in terms of political will and finances). This would provide new opportunities in public governance how to constructively use, or at least to neutralize negative influences of postmodernism.

Beside this, new public governance also encourages cooperation, co-participation and social justice, which are first of all characteristic of successfully functioning communities. New public governance is a model of new, contemporary capitalism type governance, which is more focused on the creation of favorable conditions for the formation of natural needs of the society and for new organizational forms to develop from 'above'. In this case, central government becomes merely an advisory, not an imperative body of governance, but the same kind of participatory element as the community. A special role is given to the level of territorial self-government, which per se is 'closer to people' than central government. Cooperation of municipalities and communities must solve a number of issues related to technical interoperability, and especially of commonplace nature, and also in extreme cases.

The article is trying to prove the relevance of a new value-related normative model and to substantiate the status of a community as a value of this model in the postmodern cultural environment by referring to acknowledged Western authors, such as Lyotard, Baudrillard, Bauman, Parker (philosophical, sociological discourse); Lane, Pollitt and Bouckaert, Hood and Peters, Denhardt and Denhardt, Osborne, Samier, (problems of modernization of public governance); Etzioni, Fox and Miller, Cova and Cova, Mitchell and Imrie (communitarianism and tribal marketing). …

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