on culture and poverty | Main | Orhan Pamuk, My Name is Red

February 01, 2006

a postscript to yesterday

In the schematic that I presented yesterday, one axis was defined by attitudes toward "the state." That's actually too simple. The state can be unitary, hierarchical, and centralized; or it can be decentralized and participatory. Attitudes toward each kind of state can vary from favorable to hostile. Unfortunately, I can't draw a four-dimensional box, but it would be better to show a range of attitudes toward a range of types of government.

My own sympathies lie with governmental bodies--neighborhood commissions, public corporations, advisory boards, public/private ventures, police beat councils, charter schools, problem solving courts, and the like--that address local realities and that allow volunteers to participate. These bodies are better suited to influence culture, which was yesterday's topic. On the other hand, they may also reinforce harmful cultural norms. Federal mandates certainly helped to make local schools and town governments less racist.

I'm just making things as complicated as possible here ....

Posted by peterlevine at February 1, 2006 12:04 PM


If one generally endorsed Fung's 'Empowered Participatory Governance' Model, with its design properties of devolution AND centralized supervision and coordination, where would they fit on the state dimension?

Posted by: Joseph Sinatra [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 1, 2006 02:51 PM

I think that Archon Fung's model is an attempt to move past the simple opposition of centralized versus decentralized power. Fung suggests that the best arrangements draw from both.

Posted by: Peter Levine [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 6, 2006 02:19 PM

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