This paper is suggesting pathways on how to investigate and analyze the implementation of public policies at a time where the idea of governance is leaving no public policy process untouched in any advanced liberal democracy. But due to the bewildering variety of ways in which the concept of governance is now used, a first step in an endeavour to answer a ‘how to study?’ question must be to ask and answer a ‘what is governance?’ question. One way of proceeding is by identifying the specific usage empirically as a special blend between different forms of hierarchical governance, co-governance and self-governance. Applying this method, a ‘governance blend’ is identified within the implementation of Danish employment policies which is termed a ‘citizen-centred implementation network’, which is then used in the rest of paper to test the analytic powers of the emerging conceptual framework. However, this only leaves us with the rough contours of a phenomenon that has yet to be mapped more thoroughly. This paper then continues by proposing that to grasp a phenomenon of this kind - where self-governance and co-governance is so prominently present - an action-oriented approach must be applied in order to reveal policy-making in implementation processes and a network perceptive is useful for understanding its interactive character. Further, it is argued that existing theories on implementation networks are not fully capable of investigating and analysing the citizen-centred implementation network, partially due to a top-down bias but also because they do not relate networks sufficiently to a social structure, thereby underexposing issues of identity. It is proposed that one way of achieving this is by combining the network perspective with Pierre Bourdieu’s idea of practices within quasi-autonomous social fields. Besides contributing with a coherent conceptual framework for studying social positions practiced by stakeholders, this approach adds to the investigation and analysis of manifestations of self-governance and co-governance in the citizen-centred implementation networks. Finally, it is suggested that manifestations of hierarchical governance can be studied by using insights from network management combined with Pierre Bourdieu’s concept of the political and administrative fields. This gives the added value of enabling to the analyst to identify hierarchical forms of governance by different network management strategies while still maintaining a focus on both relations of collaboration and power.
Citizen-centred implementation network, co-governance, self-governance, hierarchical governance, quasi-autonomous social, political and administrative fields