Table of Contents

Handbook on the Politics of Regulation

Handbook on the Politics of Regulation

Elgar original reference

Edited by David Levi-Faur

This unique Handbook offers the most up-to-date and comprehensive, state-of-the-art reviews of the politics of regulation. It presents and discusses the core theories and concepts of regulation in response to the rise of the regulatory state and regulatory capitalism, and in the context of the ‘golden age of regulation’. Its eleven sections include forty-eight chapters covering issues as diverse and varied as: theories of regulation; historical perspectives on regulation; regulation of old and new media; risk regulation, enforcement and compliance; better regulation; civil regulation; European regulatory governance; and global regulation. As a whole, it provides an essential point of reference for all those working on the political, social, and economic aspects of regulation.

Chapter 23: The Pragmatic Politics of Regulatory Enforcement

Salo Coslovsky, Roberto Pires and Susan S. Silbey

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, politics and public policy, political economy, public policy, regulation and governance


Salo Coslovsky, Roberto Pires, and Susan S. Silbey This chapter describes regulatory enforcement as an intrinsically political endeavor. We argue that regulatory enforcement, as enacted daily by front-line enforcers around the world, consists of the production of local agreements and arrangements that realign interests, reshape conflicts, and redistribute the risks, costs, and benefits of doing business and complying with the law. We argue that, through their transactions, both the regulators and the regulated reshape both their interests and the environment in which they operate, reconstructing their perceptions of and preferences for compliance. We call this phenomenon the “sub-politics of regulatory enforcement,” and claim that it provides a springboard for a pragmatic approach to better regulation. We begin by tracing the trajectory of the field of regulatory enforcement to identify some of its current boundaries. Next, we explore recent research on inspectors and street-level regulatory agents, introducing the notion of “sub-politics of regulatory compliance.” This construct evokes a conception of politics that differs from the idea that predominates in the regulatory enforcement literature. Contrary to those who see enforcement styles and strategies as independent variables determining compliance, we posit that enforcement agencies and regulated entities engage in an indeterminate exploration of their institutional surroundings to create legal, technological, and managerial artifacts and agreements to address practical problems of doing business and complying with law. These agents move beyond imposing fines, issuing warnings, or educating their subjects. Rather, they engage in what we describe as a terrain of sub-politics by building agreements...

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