This chapter addresses the recent discovery of ‘governance‘ as the complex art of steering multiple agencies, institutions, and systems which are both operationally autonomous from one another and structurally coupled through various forms of reciprocal interdependence. This discovery could well reflect the dramatic intensification of societal complexity which flows from growing functional differentiation of institutional orders within an increasingly global society with all that this implies for the widening and deepening of systemic interdependencies across various social, spatial, and temporal horizons of action.
Whilst recognizing that a governance bandwagon now seems to be rolling, I am reluctant to leap onto it — and certainly not in uncritical fashion. Instead I argue that governing complexity is far from simple and, indeed, that governance failure is routine. In developing this argument, some abstract claims are presented about ‘contingent necessity’ in order to problematize the notion of social complexity before considering problems of governance.