About Public Services and Democracy

26 September 2009

The Public Services and Democracy Project (‘New Politics’) is part of the Economic Justice, Corporate Power and Alternatives Programme and seeks to improve public services and strengthen democracy by empowering workers and citizens to take back control of our economic and political institutions.

Read about our activities in 2012 here

Working together with partners in critical networks and movements in particular in Latin America, Europe, East Asia, and Southern Africa, TNI’s Public Services and Democracy Programme aims to:

  • Work with actors both within state institutions and in social movements to strengthen popular sovereignty, especially at a local and regional level, generalising the innovations where appropriate to a national level. This includes the development of a network of municipalities and civil society organisations working for popular sovereignty, as well as the critical analysis of the limits of ‘participatory’ institutions that serve merely to legitimate the existing order and diffuse movements for genuine change. 
  • Provide research support for public sector workers, managers and citizens developing positive alternatives to reform and improve public services and the social efficiency of public sector institutions. The forms of such reforms vary  but share the common aim of releasing and developing the capacity of public sector staff through strong workers' organisations and democratic management. 
  • Work with activists in social movements (including organisations of labour)  and those engaged in building parties of a new kind to explore the problems and potential of rethinking political organisation, the conditions for success and the reasons for failure of experiments so far.
  • Create a space for the development and debate of ‘networked politics’ which draws on innovations and metaphors from the open software community and open web communities, as well as insights from the experiences of social movements and political parties. 
  • Work with engaged intellectuals and activists to understand the implications of the current economic crisis for developing new political institutions.

Recent publications from Public Services & Democracy

Reorienting Development: State-owned Enterprises in Latin America and the World

Reorienting Development analyses what the nature, advantages, limitations and challenges of public companies are. It also offers new theoretical and conceptual insights on the nature and roles of the state and the controversial meanings of development.

The Tragedy of The Private, The Potential of The Public

From South Africa to Brazil, from Italy to the US, in Uruguay, Greece, Norway, the UK and in many other countries, municipal councils are taking services back under public control. Public Service workers and their fellow community members are not only defending public services but are also struggling to make them democratic and responsive to the people's needs and desires.

Susan George Classics

The Transnational Institute brings together Susan George’s oeuvre in this beautiful handmade boxed set of her six classic books.

Doing away with ‘labour’

Conventionally, the concept of ‘labour’ is understood as referring to waged labour – the capacity to labour as exercised through a market. It was precisely this narrow understanding of labour that the discussions in this stream challenged from several angles.