Extending the Coupling Concept: Slack, Agency and Fields

  • John Erik FossumEmail author
Part of the Comparative Territorial Politics book series (COMPTPOL)


Much has been written on the theories and practices of federalism and democracy. Some scholars have been interested moreover in the contingent relationship between the two terms, an approach taken in particular by Arthur Benz, who has placed emphasis on the manner in which federalism and democracy are coupled. There may be no coupling; they may be loosely coupled; or they might be tightly coupled. Benz sees loose couplings as the mode of coupling that is most suitable to democracy. This chapter addresses the following question: Under what conditions (if any) may parliamentary fields ensure favourable couplings of federalism and democracy? The author first briefly outlines how Benz understands these three forms of coupling before discussing three ways of further extending the debate on the important and fruitful notion of coupling federalism and democracy that Benz has introduced. The first discusses coupling in relation to the notion of slack; the second discusses the role of coupling agents and introduces the notion of ambiguous coupling; and the third discusses the relationship between coupling and field.


Coupling Democracy Federalism Field Slack 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ARENA Centre for European StudiesUniversity of OsloOsloNorway

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