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Hendrik Wagenaar, King's College London

Tue 12 March 2019

11:00am - 12:00pm

The Dryzek Room, Building 22, University of Canberra


Civic enterprises (CEs) contain many innovative features that promise more effective public services, a more equitable society and a richer, more participatory form of democracy. Yet, despite these proven benefits, CEs rarely scale up or are consolidated within larger government structures. I explain this forced localism by arguing that in their organizational and financial set-up CEs and similar citizen initiatives are incompatible with the requirements of finance capitalism. Over the last forty years finance capitalism has imposed an all-encompassing governance and governmentality upon societies worldwide. Finance governance consists of a loosely coupled ensemble of formal laws, state institutions, private banks, giant transnational corporations, hybrid entities such as central banks, rating agencies, transnational organizations and informal professional associations, bound together by the goal of maximising profitability and liquidity and minimising inflation and system risk. This system operates to a large extent informally, away from the public eye, and outside structures of democratic control and accountability, often under the pretext of emergency measures. Finance governmentality consists of a pervasive ideology and ethos of entrepreneurship and market conformity that has permeated all aspects of public and private life, and even lodged itself inside the self-image and aspirations of ordinary citizens. Thus, a feasible citizen-centred alternative to finance capitalism has to present a blueprint of political-economic organization that is as integrated, comprehensive and internally coherent as finance capitalism. My argument is that the Commons constitute such an alternative. I will discuss the nature of commons and show how commons and commoning can potentially  create a viable alternative form of political-economic organization at local, regional and national/global levels.

About the speaker

Hendrik Wagenaar was professor at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield. He is currently senior advisor to the Policy Institute at King’s College London and adjunct professor at the University of Canberra. He publishes in the areas of participatory democracy, interpretive policy analysis, deliberative policy analysis, prostitution policy and practice theory. He is author of Meaning in Action: Interpretation and Dialogue in Policy Analysis (M.E. Sharpe, 2011), and editor of the seminal Deliberative Policy Analysis (Cambridge, 2003, with M. Hajer) In the area of prostitution research he published Designing Prostitution Policy: Intention and Reality in Regulating the Sex Trade (with Helga Amesberger and Sietske Altink, Policy Press, 2017) and Assessing Prostitution Policies in Europe (with S. Jahnsen, Routledge, 2017).

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