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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: February 2020

6 - The Policy State and Local Governance


The final stage in the elaboration of contemporary infrastructures for multilevel local governance was a wider transformation in the tasks and operation of the state. In a vast range of domains, new institutions established the development and pursuit of specific collective aims, or public policies, as a defining feature of public life. On top of constitutional hierarchies among governments, and the general features of administrative capacity linked to national bureaucracies, new layers of policymaking institutions introduced rules and procedures that reordered relationships among governments as well as between the state and society. The growth of the welfare state has been perhaps the most studied of these developments. The emergence of social policy created new domains of state activity from education to health to social insurance. These were only a part of an even wider expansion of public policy throughout society, to consumer protection, economic development, economic regulation, and environmental quality. Even policies that were already a feature of early states, such as policing and emergency services, became regularized and professionalized.