Critically analyse how a multi-level governance perspective can help us
understand the policy process in the UK.
This essay will attempt to show that multi-layered global governance, supra-national
level governance, national governance, sub-national governance is already a reality for the
citizens of the United Kingdom .There is no longer only one or two levels of government as in
the past – Central Government and local government . 'Government ' is the traditional
understanding of how the UK is governed from Westminster through formal institutions and
elected government. While the nation-state is likely to remain the foremost unit of
government, Devolution and Europeanisation have also emerged and this necessitates an
analyses of government at international, national, sub-national, and local levels.
Rhodes(1997) developed the differentiated polity model as an illustration of the changed
nature of governance in the UK today. Rhodes speaks of the 'hollowing out of the state'
whereby there are many new layers or tiers of governance which affect the policy process
here in the UK and which have diminished the ability of the state to steer or coordinate policy.
Richards and Smith (2002, p15) describe 'governance' as a label which explains the
changes which have occurred in the policy process in recent years believing that the term
raises awareness of the rise in the diversity of spheres and participants involved in the policy
process. Authoritative decision making is now dispersed across many territorial levels both
upwards and downwards.(Hooghe and Marks, 2001,p11) In today's world there are many
'actors' involved in the process of decision making and policy making. Pierre and
Peter (2000,p1) argue that despite the term governance being difficult to define, the
popularity of the concept of governance lies in its ability to encapsulate the wide variety of
institutions and relationships involved in the governing process. Carmichael (2002 ) contends
that '….it is increasingly common to speak of government having been superceded by
The nature and role of government has changed and increasingly there is a global
perspective and a European Union perspective, also there is a national perspective and a
regional [sub-national] perspective. This is the reality of which the term 'multi-level
governance' was born.
Multi-layered global governance.
Globalisation has meant that business is increasingly conducted on a world-wide
basis and often twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. New technologies and the internet
have facilitated the ability to transact global business with astonishing rapidity. There is now
an unprecedented movement of people, trade and capital world-wide and globally we are
ever more interdependent on one another.
'Globalisation is the emergence of a complex web of interconnectedness that means our
lives are increasingly shaped by events that occur and decisions that are made at a great
distance from us.' (Heywood 2000 , p.243)
Globalisation is a however a contested concept and Held et al. (1999) make reference
to three different viewpoints . Hyperglobalizers see globalisation as ‘a new epoch in human
history.’ (Held et al., 1999,p3) and believe there have been enormous political and
economic consequences which diminish the role of national government . While Sceptics
believe that globalisation is an over-rated myth and contend that there has historically always
been global interconnectedness and trading overseas and that nation states and national
governments remain as the key units of political and economic organisation. ( Held et al.,
1999,p 5) Transformationalists view globalisation as differing from previous experience of
economic interdependence in its scale and depth. They believe that a multitude of institutions,
Non governmental Organisations,...
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