Conclusion: A New Trinity of Governance?

  • Jonathan JosephEmail author
  • J. Allister McGregor
Part of the Building a Sustainable Political Economy: SPERI Research & Policy book series (SPERIRP)


The book highlights how wellbeing, resilience and sustainability come together in both policy making and public consciousness to promote a particular form of governance. While noting some of the confusion, ambiguity and contradiction present in how policy-makers take up these concepts, our main point has been to point out their connectedness, particularly as they have emerged ‘after the crisis’ as neoliberalism tries to recalibrate. We strongly associate these ideas with forms of governance that see themselves as responding to crisis and as advocating the need for rethinking and renewal. These ideas are thus connected to the dynamic wider social, political and economic context and the changing global political environment. There is often a conscious embrace of paradox, in particular through an obsession with better governing while also raising doubt and uncertainty about our ability to intervene. The new trinity provides a means whereby these doubts are being worked into the mechanisms of governance, while not interrupting the process of getting on with actual governing. This is the central paradox of the new trinity: that the three ideas have a certain critical element inherent in them that questions the rationalism, calculation and science on which government intervention has been founded, while at the same time exploring new ways that rationalism, calculation, science can be deployed to reinforce the governance systems that they raise their concerns about. We argue that the radical implications of the trinity are being compromised by this relationship to existing mechanisms of governance and call for a more systemic and genuinely transformative approach to the central issues of our time.


Wellbeing Resilience Sustainability Governance Social transformation Systems 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Sociology, Politics and International StudiesUniversity of BristolBristolUK
  2. 2.Department of Politics and International RelationsUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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