Introduction Analyses of contemporary governance face a particular challenge. The current period of austerity and retrenchment in the UK and elsewhere means that the state appears to be shrinking, leaving citizens to assume responsibility for things it had previously provided. But at the same time, the state seems to be playing a more expansive role through its concern with the well-being and happiness of its citizens. In health, education, social care, neighbourhood work, in equality policies and policies concerned with environmental sustainability, human feelings and relationships are now at the centre of governing strategies.