The Ghost in the Machine: Enabling Public Administration for an Enabling State

  • Chris McInerney


How states view their role in protecting and promoting the welfare of their citizens is in a constant state of flux. Increasingly nationalistic rhetoric in some places, ‘deep state’ conspiracy theories in others and the rise of individualism all over the globe present new challenges to the rationale for and fabric of the welfare state. Alongside this, global challenges of climate change, rising inequality and related mass migration present renewed imperatives to reconsider ideas of global solidarity and global welfare. At the same time, in many ‘developed countries’ persistent societal problems confront virtually all governments, accompanied by seemingly inexorable budgetary pressures, not least those arising from pressure to maintain expanded and expensive welfare systems. It is the latter that is considered to have significantly influenced the emergence of the concept of the ‘enabling state. This chapter explores the idea of the enabling state but does so from the perspective of public administration, the machinery of the state. In particular, it suggests that public administration systems, the machinery that keeps states functioning, themselves must be enabled so that they can genuinely enable others to address poverty, social exclusion and inequality.


Nationalism Nation state Public administration Climate change Enabling state 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chris McInerney
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Politics and Public AdministrationUniversity of LimerickLimerickIreland

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