ABSTRACT

The phrase ‘the differentiated polity’ provides an alternative, or at least amendment, to the Westminster model. Look at any dictionary and it is clear differentiation is a vague term. On the one hand, differentiation refers to functional differences, or growth through specialisation. If we use differentiation in this way, we will offer a positivist account of governance. We will treat governance as a complex set of institutions and institutional linkages defined by their social role or function. We will make any appeal to the contingent beliefs and preferences of agents largely irrelevant. On the other hand, differentiation can refer to differences in meaning. If we understand differentiation in this way, we will offer a decentred account of governance. We will understand the institutions of governance by studying the various contingent meanings informing the actions of the relevant individuals. Clearly, our anti-foundationalist epistemology and interpretive approach push us toward this second understanding of the differentiated polity.