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About ‘The Ideal of Self Governance’ Project

What is the Ideal of Self Governance Project? In this article, Professor Mark Pennington describes our research programme.
Bush House
© King’s College London

Let’s introduce ourselves. This course is part of the ‘Ideal of Self Governance’ project at the Centre for the Study of Governance and Society at King’s College London. The material we’ll explore in the next three weeks follows the vibrant areas of research our scholars are currently developing.

Within this project, our researchers study how various institutional rules coordinate different forms of social action, ranging from the determination and enforcement of property rights (who owns what) to the provision of regulatory functions and public goods. Our project understands these rules to be ‘self-governing’ where they are provided and enforced by people closest to the problem being addressed and/or when they can exercise a choice between different governance options (for example, by moving from one area to another).

The first part of our project supports case studies and quantitative analyses of how effectively self-governance solves social coordination problems. Examples of such research include the governance of ‘noxious markets’ (such as organ sales and kidnap for ransom), mutual aid groups, financial regulation, the supply of collective goods such as urban and environmental planning functions, the governance of markets ‘outside of the law’, and transnational governance and standards-setting processes.

The second part of our project focuses on evaluating how well self-governance mechanisms address social problems in comparison to alternative, more hierarchical forms of governance. We consider these issues in terms of effectiveness, efficiency and equality-based standards.

In this course, we will introduce you to this exciting area of research in political economy, exploring the foundations of self-governance, how self-governing institutions move beyond markets and states, and how well they stand up to a range of evaluative standards.

© King’s College London
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The Ideal of Self-Governance: Public Policy Beyond Markets and States

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