Regulatory Capitalism

Regulatory Capitalism

How it Works, Ideas for Making it Work Better

John Braithwaite

Contemporary societies have more vibrant markets than past ones. Yet they are more heavily populated by private and public regulators. This book explores the features of such a regulatory capitalism, its tendencies to be cyclically crisis-ridden, ritualistic and governed through networks. New ways of thinking about resultant policy challenges are developed.


David Levi-Faur

Subjects: economics and finance, public sector economics, politics and public policy, public policy, regulation and governance, social policy and sociology, economics of social policy


The way capitalism is organized and governed is changing. A regulatory explosion – the proliferation of different mechanisms of control at both the national and global level – is balancing the effects of neoliberal reforms and is creating a new global order that is characterized in important ways by regulation, regulocrats, regulatory agencies and regulatory networks. The widespread expansion of regulation is rather striking and puzzling. In an era of liberalization, privatization and deregulation, the number, forms and sources of regulation were expected to be on the decline. Convergence on liberalization as a system sans-regulation was portrayed as the desired outcome by some and a horror scenario by others. The possibility that change will result with more regulation and that étatist forms of regulation will be mainly accompanied with international and voluntary forms of regulation was not on the agenda. By the early 1990s scholars had started to point out that deregulation was really a misnomer for the emerging reforms. Instead they had suggested that the notions of ‘better regulation’, ‘reregulation’ and ‘international regulation’ best captured the change. What we are learning to better appreciate nowadays is that the notion of ‘regulatory explosion’ captures and conveys better the nature and the implications of the changing political, social and economic environment in the age of governance. The evidence is only slowly accumulating through various indicators. My own attention and awareness of the phenomenon grew from a study of the restructuring of the modern bureaucracy and the rise of regulocracy as an...