Government and governance are frequently treated as synonyms. Governing is what governments do in formulating and implementing policies. A burgeoning political science literature uses the term governance in a different way to describe the growing tendency of governments to govern in partnership with a range of non-state actors and, as a purported consequence, the marginalization of governments within policymaking processes. Here, some writers go so far as to talk about ‘governance without government’. In a forthcoming book, Rethinking Governance: Bringing the State Back In, Stephen Bell and I argue that this dominant 'society-centred’ perspective on governance is flawed. In our view whilst governments are indeed now more likely to forge relationships with a larger range of non-state actors, they nevertheless remain the central players in governance arrangements. Indeed we argue that governments have been strengthened through the relationships they have developed. This article reviews some of the extant literature on governance and specifies the basic terms of our ‘state-centric relational’ approach.