The Social As A Programme Of Governance - Part Two

PART TWO: The Social As A Programme Of Governance

So far I have discussed definitions and operational structures of the
social via social theories on the state and social control. I shall now
examine the relationship of the social with forms of governance of the
economy. Keynesianism, as a programme of governance that aims at
representing reality as an economy that distinguishes without
governmental intervention is in close relationship to the specific sector
and practices of the social. The social is valued under Keynesianism and
is treated as programmes that seek to implement interventions into the
market system for collective social interests such as social harmony,
social peace, social co-ordination and in general providing solidarity.
Keynesianism utilises the social along ethical dimensions to shape
individual conduct and life. the social is utilised as a programme of
techniques for interventions to: 1) regulate economic activity, 2)
maximise the economic utility/potential for all (as the population is
treated as a valuable resource that need not be wasted by social
disintegration) and 3) state interventions to create possibilities for
all as a form of collective growth. The ethical dimensions that
Keynesianism displays by the utilisation of the social is that by
government intervention, one could produce conditions that create
equality of citizenship for collective peace and social unity.

Does Keynesianism establish the link between the economy and the social
sector? The social is seen as a means of stimulating the economy by
increasing demand through public expenditure. The social sector becomes a
different sector from that of political economy. The social is viewed as
good for the economy as the economic starts to fulfil social objectives
such as full employment, jobs, access to education, standards of living
and social security. Keynesianism and its close relationship to the
social pose a major blow to the equilibrium theory of the economics of
capitalism: the idea that in the long term the demand /supply for
anything would be balanced by the price mechanism, so that resources
would be used where needed most. But does the economics of capitalism
solve the social programmes without any government intervention?
Beveridge states that "the state must step in... the state cannot escape
ultimate responsibility for the general direction of outlay by reference
to social priorities and programmes"(22).

I shall now discuss the relationship of the social with liberalism as a
programme of governance of the economy. Liberalism, as a programme of
governance, seeks a limited role of governments through the notion of
limited government. The view implicitly recognises that governments best
serve the public interest by refraining from social interventions to
achieve specific goals of its own and by limiting itself to the
preservation of law and order. It is also held, under liberalism, that
limited government is itself a necessary precondition of the revival of
voluntary individual and e collective enterprise in all areas of life,
not just the economy. There is the belief that the market, as a self
correcting mechanism, given time can spontaneously overcome its own
mistakes in a way not open to government.

The position of the social as programmes of interventions is strongly
undermined by the consideration of the market as a natural entity that
needs to be left alone under liberalism. Social programmes are seen as
intrusions, wasteful of resources and as undermining the full utility of
individuals to attaining their best economic potentials. What is the
principle of individualism within liberalism that the social is deemed to
counter-act? It is the notion of individual freedom: if the individual is
free from all coercion by other individuals and from the state, than the
individual will respond by exerting the self to the utmost limit of self
potentials to the advantage of self and greater society.

The social as an interventionist programme, is seen as disruptive to the
social fabric society by recognising that individuals have social rights.
Powell writes "the translation of a want or social need into a right is
one of the most widespread and dangerous of modern liberal societies"(23)
and it can be seen here that the social as a programme of government is
viewed as dangerous as it recognises individuals as having social rights:
"it not only provides unlimited fuel for dissatisfaction, it also
provides unlimited scope for fostering of animosities between one section
of potential recipients and another"(24). Under liberalism, the position
of the social is severely undermined and considered as an agent for
disunity and social disintegration.

I shall now examine the relationship of the social to governance of the
family. Donzelot identifies the family as both a "subject and object of
government"(25). It is subject by virtue of the internal distribution of
powers; the wife, children, head of family - this establishes the
networks of solidarity and also blocks of dependence. The social could be
seen here as inserting the family into the political economy through the
processes of "acceptance of public order, stability, public authority and
also public controls"(26). Thus the social as an administration programme
is involved with the exchange of obligations and protections between
public agencies and family authorities on themes of public order and
control. It is through the social that public order is maintained: the
state relies on the family for direct support.

How is it possible to ensure the development of social programmes of
preservation of stability through the family while at the same time
detaching it from direct political roles? This is also enabled by the
deployment of the social as objectifying techniques and as methods of
private interventions into family relations. Donzelot sees the social as
a depoliticizing strategy for establishing the public sphere and to
facilitate the development of a midway point between the private sector
and the state.

What are the effects on the family by the utilisation of the social as
distinct administration practices? The family could be seen as becoming
the point of support for individuals and the family, by the deployment
of the social, also becomes a target by governments taking account of
their complaints; families are made agents for conveying the norms of the
state into the private sphere. The social, in relation to the family,
could be viewed as systematically linked to control, surveillance and the
development of morality for consensus aims of government policies.

Our current forms of political discourse are in danger of overlooking the
importance of the social. What are our current forms of political
discourse? This I would identify as ideologies which are economic
rationalist. Hewitt defines economic rationalism as a conceptualising
device that deals with the characterisation and definition of social
realities as economic systems where social and political realities are
expressed in terms of economic logic, often empirical and quantitative
logic(27). The social, under economic rationalism, is subordinated by the
use of economic logic whereby ethics and morality are undermined in
society. Hurst suggests that under economic rationalism, the social
programmes are seen as dysfunctional due to the prevalence of economic
logic. The subordination of the social is defended by economic
rationalists on grounds of economic logic as creating efficiency,
flexibility and a more responsive society on the belief that 'true'
realities can be located and addressed(28).

There is at present consensus favouring economic rationalism which is
surviving the recession, and changes to policy direction can be detected.
This is evident in the free-market policies of economic rationalism and
micro-economic reforms, effects of which are the changes in role of
governments by withdrawing many economic regulations, transferring
ownership from the public to private sectors and reducing, or at least,
stabilising the public sector's share of GDP. The subordination of the
social is also evident in the contraction of the freedom of choice in
areas of public spending, health care, education and social security.
There is also a casual contempt freedom and privacy such as matters of
national identity cards, tax file numbers, bank account regulations and
bans on political advertising.

The extent to which economic rationalist policies are evident in our
current political discourse is deep and this has the effect of
subordinating the social (just as in liberalism) whereby the social is
reduced to the economics of the market. The market is still seen as the
arbiter of all values with minimal government restrictions. Under current
economic rationalist ideologies, social programmes are measured by what
the market would calculate its value to be and this appears to be the
only criterion of social usefulness!


1. Foucault. M (1979) "The History of Sexuality Volume One: London: Allen

2. Ibid. p.5

3. Ibid. p.32-35

4. Donzelot. J (1979) "The Policing of Families, London: Hutcheson. p.237

5. Ibid. p.92

6. Ibid. p.22-27

7. Ibid. p.7

8. Minson. J (1985) "Genealogies of Morals", London: Macmillan. p.9-10

9. Ibid. p.183

10.Polanyi. K (1944) "The Great Transformation", Boston: Beacon Press.Ch
10 p.327.

11. Ibid. p.137-138

12. Ibid. p.26

13. Bentham. J (1843) "Works", ed. Bowring, J. Vol:3, Edinburgh: William
Tait Press. p.52

14. Ibid. p.32

15. Ibid. p.7

16. Gamble. A (1981) "Introduction to Modern Social and Political
Thought", London: Macmillan Press. p.93.

17. Ibid. p.103

18. Ibid. p.97

19. Lukes. S (1973) "Individualism", Oxford, Blackwell Press. p.403.

20. Nozick. R (1974) "Anarchy, State and Utopia", Oxford: Blackwell
Press. p.317.

21. Ibid. p.320.

22. Beveridge. W (1944) "Full Employment in a Free Society", London:
Allen & Unwin. p.42.

23. Powell. E (1972) "Still to Decide", Tadworth, Surrey: Eliott Right
Way Press. p.17-22.

24. Ibid. p.32.

25. Donzelot, J . p.55

26. Ibid. p.57.

27. Hewitt, M (1987) "Economic Rationalism: A Way Out?", London: Faber. p.16.

28. Hurst, P. (1981) "Power and Politics", p.207.



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