In Search of Society? The Limitations of Citizen-Centred Governance
Democratic governments have spent much of the last two decades attempting to recalibrate their governance systems around a single focal entity: the citizen. The all-pervasive rhetoric of citizen-centred governance has seen policies conceived, delivered and evaluated in terms of the satisfaction levels achieved by individual 'citizens'. This article argues that by disaggregating societal interests down to the smallest available individual unit - the citizen - policy makers have created unrealistic expectations of individual participation, leading to public distrust when 'citizen-centred' rhetoric does not match reality. Simultaneously, the focus on individual outcomes has narrowed the policy-making gaze away from wider society-level measures that could create more robust policy options in the face of 'hard choices.' The result - paradoxically - is that the more government focuses on pleasing the individual citizen, the less trusting those citizens are of government's ability to deliver meaningful outcomes.
The Political Quarterly