Handbook on the Politics of Regulation
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Handbook on the Politics of Regulation

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.
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Chapter 1: Regulation and Regulatory Governance

David Levi-Faur


David Levi-Faur [O]ur life plans are so often impeded by rules, large and small, that the very idea of a life plan independent of rules is scarcely imaginable. (Schauer 1992: 1) Like many other political concepts, regulation is hard to define, not least because it means different things to different people. The term is employed for a myriad of discursive, theoretical, and analytical purposes that cry out for clarification (Baldwin et al. 1998; Black 2002; Parker and Braithwaite 2003). The notion of regulation is also highly contested. For the Far Right, regulation is a dirty word representing the heavy hand of authoritarian governments and the creeping body of rules that constrain human or national liberties. For the Old Left it is part of the superstructure that serves the interests of the dominant class and frames power relations in seemingly civilized forms. For Progressive Democrats, it is a public good, a tool to control profit-hungry capitalists and to govern social and ecological risks. For some, regulation is something that is done exclusively by government, a matter of the state and legal enforcement, while for others regulation is mostly the work of social actors who monitor other actors, including governments. State-centered conceptions of regulation define it with reference to state-made laws (Laffont 1994), while society-centered analysts and scholars of globalization tend to point to the proliferation of regulatory institutions beyond the state (e.g. civil-to-civil, civil-to-government, civil-to-business, business-to-business, and business-to-government regulation). For legal scholars, regulation is often a legal instrument, while for...

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