Reflexivity and Deliberative Modes of Governance in the Context of EU Risk Regulation
Law University of Leicester UK,
Sociology University od Manchester Manchester, UK
This paper attempts to apply Archer's theory on reflexivity (i.e. "the regular exercise of the mental ability, shared by all normal people, to consider themselves in relation to their (social) contexts and vice versa") to governance arrangements, and more specifically, to risk regulation. We argue that the realisation of citizens' inherent reflexive ability provides an additional independent justification to the widespread literature which calls for deliberative modes of governance. What is more, a distinction is made between politics based on spontaneous (re)action (or shallow politics) and politics based on "reflexivity" (or reflexive politics). The latter aspire to involve citizens in the political process within a framework of constructive and carefully constructed dialogue that takes place simultaneously amongst and between the governors and the governed. Conversely, shallow politics are not, primarily, preoccupied with deliberation and reasons giving but they are chiefly concerned with realising the unrefined wishes of citizens. In making this distinction, the paper uses the European Union governance arrangements in relation to Genetically Modified Food and Feed as a case study in order to ascertain the extent to which they encourage policies based on reflexivity.