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The Politics of Regulation

Institutions and Regulatory Reforms for the Age of Governance

Edited by Jacint Jordana and David Levi-Faur

This book suggests that the scope and breadth of regulatory reforms since the mid-1980s and particularly during the 1990s, are so striking that they necessitate a reappraisal of current approaches to the study of the politics of regulation. The authors call for the adoption of different and fresh perspectives to examine this area.
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Chapter 7: Regulation in the Age of Governance: The Rise of the Post-Regulatory State

Colin Scott


Colin Scott* 1. INTRODUCTION This chapter forms part of a larger project examining governance ‘beyond the regulatory state’. Governance has been defined in a variety of ways in both official and secondary literatures. In this chapter the ‘age of governance’ is conceived in terms of recognizing the dispersal of capacities and resources relevant to the exercise of power among a wide range of state, non-state and supranational actors. It is claimed that ‘[t]he essence of governance is its focus on governing mechanisms which do not rest on recourse to the authority and sanctions of government’ (Stoker, 1998, 17). An analysis in which governing is no longer seen as the exclusive prerogative of the nation-state presents a challenge to the literature, which argues that the last years of the twentieth century witnessed ‘the rise of the regulatory state’ (Majone, 1994). In this chapter three core assumptions of the regulatory state movement are scrutinized using theoretical and empirical literatures which challenge one or more of these central ideas: regulation is instrumental in character; the state is necessarily central to regulatory governance; state law is a central instrument of regulatory governance. Each of these assumptions has a descriptive and a normative dimension, both of which are assessed in the critique. The objective of the analysis is not to dispense wholly with the assumptions but rather to act as a corrective to an influential literature which, because of its neglect of the non-instrumental dimension of regulation, non-state regulation and regulation which deploys non-state...

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