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30 - Does Transparency Engender the Confidence of the Governed? A Contribution to Political Thought

from Part VI - Economics and Civil Society

Sandrine Baume
Affiliation:
University of Lausanne
Roberto Baranzini
Affiliation:
Centre Walras-Pareto, University of Lausanne
François Allisson
Affiliation:
Centre Walras-Pareto, University of Lausanne
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Summary

Introduction

Over the past few decades, transparency in the handling of public affairs has become an increasing requirement. It is nowadays considered simultaneously a basic feature of good governance and a protection against misrule. This coincides with greater expectations from the public regarding the availability, accessibility and diffusion of information. Such great enthusiasm for transparency – which comes not only from public opinion and the media but also from entrepreneurs in civil and political life – is in fact multidimensional; many hopes have been associated with the requirement of transparency in public affairs. Among these hopes are an improvement of the moralization of politics, greater confidence and consent of the governed, and a capacity for the public to form its judgement in a more enlightened way. Among these factors that speak to the application of the principle of transparency, the confidence of the governed has played a very decisive role in political thought. In this essay, I will focus on the question of trust as a major argument for those who promote the principle of transparency. This essay will be developed along these two temporal axes: first, I would like to come back to the period of the emergence of representative government (late eighteenth to the early nineteenth century), where writers such as Jeremy Bentham and Benjamin Constant showed how transparency could engender the trust of the governed.

Type
Chapter
Information
Economics and Other Branches – In the Shade of the Oak Tree
Essays in Honour of Pascal Bridel
, pp. 425 - 434
Publisher: Pickering & Chatto
First published in: 2014

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