Challenging Governance Theory: From Networks to Hegemony


19 Pages Posted: 28 Jun 2011 Last revised: 27 Jul 2011

See all articles by Jonathan S. Davies

Jonathan S. Davies

De Montfort University; Centre for Urban Research on Austerity

Date Written: March 31, 2011


This entry comprises the preliminaries and introduction to my book, to be published by Policy Press in September 2011, titled Challenging Governance Theory: From Networks to Hegemony. The following text appears on the back cover.

Theories heralding the rise of network governance have dominated for a generation. Yet, empirical research suggests that claims for the transformative potential of networks are exaggerated. This topical and timely book takes a critical look at contemporary governance theory, elaborating a Gramscian alternative. It argues that although the ideology of networks has been a vital element in the neoliberal hegemonic project, there are major structural impediments to accomplishing it. While networking remains important, the hierarchical and coercive state is vital for the maintenance of social order and integral to the institutions of contemporary governance. Reconsidering it from Marxist and Gramscian perspectives, the book argues that the hegemonic ideology of networks is utopian and rejects the claim that there has been a transformation from ‘government’ to ‘governance’. This important book has international appeal and will be essential reading for scholars and students of governance, public policy, human geography, public management, social policy and sociology.

The three cover endsorsements for the book read as follows:

“A robust challenge to the casual acceptance of network governance as the ‘way we live now’, this book offers a stimulating and provocative critique of governance that is theoretically rich and analytically satisfying. Essential.” Helen Sullivan, University of Birmingham

“Jonathan Davies adds a novel critical voice to debates about governance. Drawing on Gramsci, he argues that network governance is less a panacea than a perpetuation of modernism. Dreams of spreading connections, reflexivity, and communication constantly get transformed into a reality of hierarchy, hegemony, and domination.” Mark Bevir, University of California, Berkeley

"Jonathan Davies has written a robust critique of network governance theory, its circulation and the way it influences practice. Developing an incisive Gramscian governance agenda, he contests the scope of the transformation associated with government networks. Most importantly, he underlines their instrumentalisation by political elites. An essential book for the governance debate, an antidote to the enchanted view of depoliticised networks". Patrick LeGales, Sciences Po, Paris.

Keywords: governance network, gramsci, hegemony

Suggested Citation

Davies, Jonathan S. and Davies, Jonathan S., Challenging Governance Theory: From Networks to Hegemony (March 31, 2011). Jonathan S. Davies, CHALLENGING GOVERNANCE THEORY: FROM NETWORK TO HEGEMONY, Policy Press, September 2011, Available at SSRN:

Jonathan S. Davies (Contact Author)

Centre for Urban Research on Austerity ( email )

The Gateway
Leicester, LE1 9BH
United Kingdom

De Montfort University ( email )

Hugh Aston Building
The Gateway
Leicester, East Midlands LE1 9BH
United Kingdom


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