Standard definitions of governance refer to horizontal forms of control negotiated across multiple stakeholders and levels, in contrast to the top-down regulation imposed coercively on society and the economy by government. But the rise of governance reflects more than a reordering of authority relations among a prior set of actors; it is a transformation of cultural definitions of who gets to be an actor and what that means. Contemporary governance patterns are rooted in the rise and globalization of a neoliberal culture which asserts that society, government and economy are best structured by the decisions and capabilities of actors. As a result, numbers and types of actors - defined as entities attributed with agency, identity and responsibility - expand: Governance is best understood as enactments of these expanding beliefs about actorhood. The proliferation of authority-wielding actors draws attention to, and helps account for, the weakness of governance as a control system.
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