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From Chasing Violations to Managing Risks

Origins, Challenges and Evolutions in Regulatory Inspections

Florentin Blanc

Florentin Blanc focuses specifically on regulatory inspections and enforcement, their historical development, contrasted approaches and methods, and their relative effectiveness in achieving regulatory objectives. Inspections aimed at verifying compliance with regulations are one of the most significant activities of modern states in terms of the number of staff employed or of people affected, and one of the most visible ones – but have long remained relatively under-researched, or at least not considered "as such".
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Chapter 2: Inspections, risks and circumstances: historical development, diversity of structures and practices

Florentin Blanc


While there were already some inspection officials in ancient times (customs, weights and measures), and official controls of food developed in the Middle Ages, ‘modern’ inspectorates date back to the 19th century. This chapter looks at the development of food safety and occupational safety and health inspections, mostly in the UK and the US, to understand the dynamics that led to their creation and evolution. It shows the importance of risk perceptions, trust issues and interest groups in shaping the regulatory response – and the strength of path dependency in how inspection institutions and practices differ today. Indeed, divergences between countries seem to owe more to historical conditions and evolutions than to rational planning.

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