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The global vernacular of governance and instruments: translating between the operating systems of China and the United States

Dan Guttman

Asia Pacific Journal of Public Administration, 2015, vol. 37, issue 4, 253-263

Abstract: There is now a global English language vernacular of governance and its instruments. Students, scholars, practitioners and conferees alike in Beijing, Washington and numerous other locations use terms and phrases like “governance,” “policy instruments,” “NGOs” and “the rule of law” when talking about and analysing government and public affairs. But do these words have the same meaning in different heads? In response, this article examines some key vernacular terms related to governance and instruments, and compares their practical meaning in China and the US to consider whether the vernacular is robust enough to permit deep comparisons between differing “operating systems.” It contends that, at present, it is not, but that patient attention to differing systems may yield clues to translation and, ultimately, fruitful comparisons.

Date: 2015
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