How it Works, Ideas for Making it Work Better
Chapter 2: The Cyclical Nature of the Challenges of Regulatory Capitalism
Chapter 1 made reference to watersheds in regulatory growth such as the New Deal. Yet it could be read as suggesting a continuous growth of regulation that took oﬀ at an accelerating rate after 1970 as the era of regulatory capitalism dawned. While it is true that overall there was growth of regulatory institutions throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries that accelerated after 1970, diﬀerent domains of regulation grew in diﬀerent periods of the past 200 years and they grew unevenly, in spurts. Much of my writing about regulation has been about how scandal has produced such spurts (in nursing-home regulation (Braithwaite et al. 2007), coal mine safety (Braithwaite 1985), pharmaceuticals (Braithwaite 1984) and the regulation of corruption (Fisse and Braithwaite 1993, for example)). Non-governmental organizations that are regulatory model mongers actively promote regulatory growth by keeping a list of regulatory development projects in their back drawer until the right disaster comes along (Braithwaite and Drahos 2000: ch. 25). The ﬁre safety reformer waits for a disastrous ﬁre to promote new building regulations for more resistant materials. The environmentalist waits for the tanker to run aground to promote new laws to control oil spills at sea. To this extent the cyclical nature of regulatory capitalism is a purposive creation of reformers who decide for long periods to keep their reform projects in their back drawer until the ripe moment arrives. The topic-selectiveness of cycles of regulatory growth is a result of an issue-attention cycle (Downes 1972) in which...
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