Scope

Guidance on content patterns and key concepts: Global Partnershipscopesocietal architectureactor mapsstatute booksinitiative booksresource booksthree realm mapsgovernment functionsindustry sectorsmunicipal circles


Rationale

Development is inherently connected to changes in the interactions among actors, as well as changes in actor access to resources.

In development strategies and initiatives one often makes assumptions on actors and the (possible) claims these actors have on resources. Baseline descriptions of the current situation, the prevailing statutes, and of the change initiatives to which actors have committed, frequently occur.

As many actors participate, or have stakes, in concurrent and successive initiatives, much will be written about each actor, yet no initiative will provide and maintain a comprehensive and up-to-date description, and there will be no consensus description. Facts and views about the current situation, statutes and the (expected) impact of statutes and initiatives are usually presented with a filter that is biased by opinion:

  • to underscore the opinion that government has too many powers, the claims of government agencies will be presented as if no checks and balances exist and as if officials act in a role of principal rather than in a role of agent;
  • in weak democracies, the having of private ends in the public service easily coexists with the perception of unchecked and broad powers of government induced by a narrow discourse of lean government and deregulation, and by the poor attention given to the division of powers that comes with democratic institutions and social contracts.

Accountability in Democratic Arenas with Clear Claims and Mandates

Because of their socio-systemic complexity and the multiple disciplines, events and shocks that have contributed to their emergence over several millennia, the democratic arena has become more complex than most people can cope with in their imagination. And few will have the luck of being able to experience its workings in more than only a few facets. Judges and some politicians, especially the senior ones, are privileged in this sense: for them the democratic arena has become a small world. Yet for 99,99% of the population of any country in the world, the democratic arena is a big world. Claims and mandates are poorly understood and they are prone to mis-representation in discourse.

It is for those 99,99% that this actor atlas is intended.

Making a Big World Small, wiki page by wiki page

By sharing actor maps, statute books, initiative books, sector maps and government function maps, stakeholders can express and refine facts and dependencies, such that a fair shared image of reality and of feasible change options may emerge. This in its turn will bring substantial benefits to development initiatives.

The functions of actors, the relationships among the actors, claims on resources, and references to mandates, all are governed by prevailing statutes (social contracts) or customary law. This is briefly explained at Access, Claims and Contracts.

Atlas Contents

The Actor Atlas targets to fulfill the role of a societal architecture repository1 and contains:

Actor Classifications

In the societal architecture actors are classifed at levels macro, meso, micro and pico in accordance with their functions and claims. The classification is clarified and justified in below pages:

In this atlas, the grouping of actors, primarily macro- and meso-level actors, is determined by their level and their geographic territory.

Most of the statutes and initiatives are related to macro and meso-level actors. The concerns of companies and citizens are typically represented by an interest or pressure group, which is a meso-level actor. Likewise, we consider the group of all rice farmers in a territory a meso-level actor. Yet the individual farmer is a pico-level actor. Also for micro-level actors the same rule applies: each bank operating in a country is a micro-level actor, yet the group of all banks, e.g., typically represented by a federation of banks, is a meso-level actor.

Claims, Contracts and Agreements

Each actor will make a number of claims, such as the executive claiming sovereign rule over a territory. Each actor may enter into contracts or agreements with other actors, for instance to allow passage to citizens of a neigbouring country. Further Details at Access, Claims and Contracts.

The proliferation of claims and contracts may lead to a certain annoyance for the ruled persons. This is briefly explained in Scope of Claims.

The agreements information included in this (prototype) atlas is of two kinds:

Considerable attention goes to statutes that are enacted within a country, a sector or a discipline, and treaties between countries. For ease of reference and structuring, treaties, conventions and charters are also included in a statute book.

How treaties and statutes matter to development is illustrated by the EU's Generalised System of Preferences2. This is a trade arrangement through which the EU provides preferential access to the EU market to 176 developing countries and territories, in the form of reduced tariffs for their goods when entering the EU market. It is implemented by a Council Regulation applicable for a period of three years at a time.

Atlas Maintenance

This atlas is offered as a prototype, to demonstrate a service concept in support of an effective sustainable development strategy.

As the actor atlas service will be adopted by a growing user community, it will be important to enact formal maintenance procedures and comply to certain principles as explained at Global Agreement - Maintenance Procedures.

Disclaimer

The actor atlas, in its current version, does not aim to be complete regarding the identification and presentation of actors, their statutes and initiatives, and the maps of sectors and functions of government.

Actual Inclusion Criteria

Actors, statutes and initiatives that are included play a role in some of the cases for which a content commons codification is being performed, as listed at http://www.pragmetaknowledgeclout.be/application-cases

For statutes and initiatives, only their "external properties" are included. These typically include the actors that are bound by the statutes, or contribute to, participate in and benefit from the initiatives.

Detailed coverage of their content should happen within the Constraint Dictionary for statutes, and within the Initiative Atlas for initiatives.


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