Discretion and the Quest for Controlled Freedom

Book edited by Tony Evans and Peter Hupe: “Actors in public situations are in some ways subject to control while also exercising freedom. Discretion in contemporary societies is increasingly characterized by cross-cutting systems of control as well as by conflicting conceptions of knowledge and expertise. There is also the paradox of the autonomous individual empowered by social media while simultaneously being subject to its algorithms and surveillance. Narrow disciplinary conceptions of discretion—whether they come from law, economics, sociology or politics—are of limited value in understanding the contemporary dynamics of discretion. This chapter describes these phenomena and also seeks to capture the operation of discretion in different settings while examining its role and evaluating its use. It is argued that we need to recognize developing debates within disciplines, cross-fertilization between them and innovative developments at the margins of those disciplines. That enables the conceptualization of the natures, operations and evaluations of discretion as a context-sensitive and dynamic idea….(More)”.