The New Regulatory Space

The New Regulatory Space

Reframing Democratic Governance

Frank Vibert

This groundbreaking book analyses changing patterns of governance in modern democratic societies. Frank Vibert discusses how far we should be concerned about such changes and what we should be concerned about. Crucially, Vibert clarifies the status of regulation, revealing how regulation should be viewed, not only as a technique offering specific responses to particular policy problems, but also in its new role as the key mechanism for making adjustments between the different systems of coordination used in contemporary governance.

Chapter 7: The regulatory space and social norms

Frank Vibert

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, law - academic, law and society, regulation and governance, politics and public policy, international politics, public policy, regulation and governance


Most people rarely come up against the law in their lives. Parking or speeding offences may be the most frequent form of contact apart from those formal certifications of a marriage, birth and death, the execution of a will and the conveyance of a property. They may also engage only sporadically with politics. Nevertheless, most societies, outside what are termed 'failed states' where civil strife is endemic, seem to get along with greater or lesser degrees of success. The reason for this is that people observe, almost without reflection, rules of behaviour for themselves and for their relationships with others without coming to disagreements that can only be resolved though the law or politics. People absorb lessons about what is right or wrong behaviour, they take cues from the behaviour of others and they are influenced by the codes and norms of groups with which they associate or are affiliated with. They take note of what is deemed 'acceptable' behaviour by their families, friends and acquaintances and, if their behaviour falls outside what is seen to be acceptable, they may come under pressure from peers to conform and to behave differently. Norms shape behaviour without any explicit calculation by the actor in many situations in life. The observance of social norms also helps other coordination mechanisms. They help the maintenance of ethical standards of behaviour in the market and the observance of the law.

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