ABSTRACT

DEMOCRATIC REVIVAL OR E-SELL OUT? A SCEPTIC'S REPORT ON THE STATE OF E-GOVERNANCE IN THE UK

Burkhard Schafer

This paper pursues three main aims. First, it gives an account of the state of development of e-government in the UK, and the legal issues that have emerged since it took centre stage of government policy in 1997. Second, it tries to locate e-government in the broader context of public sector reform in the UK, and the increasingly contested relation between public and private sector delivery of public services. In doing so, it thirdly raises some issues regarding the appropriate methodology for the comparison of e-government legislation. We argue that the methodological commitment to functionalism creates the danger that officially stated aims and functions of e-government initiatives are often taken prematurely at face value by researchers. To compensate for this tendency, we develop in addition to an account of the official rational for e-government initiatives also a re-reading that emphasises the potential danger for reform of the democratic system, not so much as a necessarily truer account, but with the pedagogical aim to show that the available facts are at least consistent with such a reading, highlighting the implications this has for the methodology of future, more detailed comparative legal studies in this area.


Cite as: Burkhard Schafer, Democratic Revival or E-Sell Out? A Sceptic's Report on the State of E-Governance in the UK, vol 10.3 ELECTRONIC JOURNAL OF COMPARATIVE LAW, (December 2006), <http://www.ejcl.org/103/art103-12.pdf>.

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