Government open data and transparency: Oakeshott, civil association and the general will

Global Discourse: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Current Affairs and Applied Contemporary Thought

Volume 5, Issue 1, 2015

This article considers recent trends in government towards openness and transparency, particularly with respect to the publication of open data, in the context of Michael Oakeshott’s ideas of the nature of the state and the conditions for civility. It is argued that certain aspects of open data have pushed back against a trend towards the imposition of government goals upon its citizens, an imposition often justified in terms reminiscent of Rousseau’s doctrine of the general will. Oakeshott’s view of the state is contrasted with Rousseau’s, and the two frameworks used to locate recent innovations in digital government. Of these, only open data is supportive of civil association.