Beyond the limits to governance
‘Governance’ is a highly plastic concept that has spilled over from the political sciences and has been adopted, in some cases rather uncritically, by scholars from other social science traditions. We argue that there are limits to this all-pervasive notion of governance. Some of these limitations could potentially be addressed by the ‘tentative governance’ approach if it can create new opportunities for learning in order to cope with the problems of uncertainty at an early stage of new and emerging technologies in areas such as the life sciences. In order to move beyond these limits, we may be able to use the heuristic device offered by tentative governance as a step towards developing and adopting new rules of engagement. These new rules of engagement need (i) to recognise that consensus may not always be possible in areas of new and emerging technology and (ii) to accept a more balanced approach to governance that acknowledges the role of policy and politics. In order to achieve this, we need to go beyond science and technology studies (STS) and innovation studies and adopt a more interdisciplinary approach that acknowledges the contributions already made to this governance debate by a wide range of scholars, including those in the political sciences.
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