Governance refers to all processes of governing, whether undertaken by a government, market, or network, whether over a family, tribe, corporation, or territory, and whether by laws, norms, power, or language. Governance is a broader term than government because it focuses not only on the state and its institutions but also on the creation of rule and order in social practices.
Bevir advances a decentered theory of governance. He emphasizes that governance consists of practices arising out of concrete human activity. His decentered theory thereby highlights the diversity of governing practices and the importance of historical explanations of these practices. Governance is seen as a set of diverse practices that people are constantly creating and recreating through their concrete activity. Governance is explained by the narratives that the relevant actors first inherit as historical traditions and then revise in response to dilemmas. The book applies this decentered theory to both general questions of social organization and to the changing nature of public organization and action.
Today rational choice and institutionalist theories dominate the literature on governance as social organization and as a new politics. Bevir’s book begins to lay the ground for an alternative theory that also covers both organization theory and current trends in the state. Bevir argues: