Technocracy and Democracy as Spheres of Justice in Public Policy

Published In

Policy Sciences

Document Type


Publication Date



There is a long-standing debate about the proper application of democratic versus technocratic approaches to decision-making in public policy. This paper seeks to clarify the debate by applying Michael Walzer’s notion of “spheres of justice,” wherein both democracy and technocracy could be seen as distinctive approaches to justice that need to be protected from the domination of the other. The paper shows how the debate on democracy versus technocracy has evolved in both theoretical and applied settings in a manner that reflects the “domination” of one approach by the other. It elaborates the argument through several concrete examples drawn from comparative politics, public policy, and public management. It then explores how the “spheres” approach implies the need for an interpretive mechanism in order to mediate the competing notions of justice in particular policy issues.



Persistent Identifier