Peaceful contestation

Kukovec, Damjan (2019) Peaceful contestation. In: Polycentricity in the European Union. Van Zeben, Josephine and Bobić, Ana, eds. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 208-225. ISBN 978-1108423540, e-ISBN 9781108528771, e-ISBN 9781108534673. [Book Section] (doi:10.1017/9781108528771.011)

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Polycentricity implies the diffusion of sovereignty over several levels of governance and numerous institutions. It envisages an explicit role for non-governmental bodies, such as private and community-based organisations and it puts the individual at the heart of society and social construction. Polycentricity presents a normative alternative to federalism, multilevel governance that prioritises self-governance, or individual autonomy, as a goal.

Peaceful contestation plays a special role within the polycentric theory, a role of an institutional essential. This means that peaceful contestation needs to be constantly enabled in a polycentric society in order for the society to be able to maintain its polycentric character. Peaceful contestation is the peaceful challenge of any existing legal and political situation in view of ensuring the values of polycentric theory, particularly self-governance. Polycentric theory and peaceful contestation thus need to be understood dynamically: many decision centres with autonomous and limited prerogatives need to be able to and should in fact constantly contest existing norms and policies as well as their own autonomy and prerogatives. NGOs, cities, individuals, corporations, states or expert groups are just some of the loci of decision making and contestation that are involved in a constant reconfiguration of society. Once this dispersed process of social reconfiguration stops or is limited, the system will revert to another type of pluricentric governance, such as federalism or multilevel governance.

This chapter sets out the notion of peaceful contestation within the framework of polycentric theory. Part I discusses the most important premises of peaceful contestation as addressed in the framework of the polycentric theory, and the notion of ‘peaceful’ contestation within that framework. Part II discusses the realisation of the goal of polycentricity – self-governance – through peaceful contestation within the framework of the theory of polycentricity. It develops the notion of ‘trust-producing conflicts’ and the notion of a social actor or ‘public entrepreneur’, explaining the role of a public entrepreneur with an example of an infringement procedure of the European Commission. Part III concludes. The overall aim of this chapter is to develop an ideal type of peaceful contestation that is needed for the maintenance of a polycentric system, one that prioritises self-governance or individual autonomy.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Law
Item ID: 34933
Notes on copyright: This material has been published in Polycentricity in the European Union edited by Josephine van Zeben and Ana Bobić This version is free to view and download for private research and study only. Not for re-distribution or re-use. © Josephine van Zeben and Ana Bobic 2019
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Depositing User: Damjan Kukovec
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2022 15:47
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 19:14

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