Edited by David Levi-Faur
Chapter 15: The Regulatory Rescue of the Welfare State
Deborah Mabbett For many researchers immersed in the world of regulatory governance, the very title of this chapter poses a challenge. Surely the regulatory state is concerned with the operation of markets, whereas the welfare state is concerned with the redistribution of market output through taxing and spending? The former adopts economic efficiency and procedural fairness as its central norms; the latter promotes various forms of social equality. For the regulatory state, rules are the central instruments of policy; for the welfare state, the government budget serves as the focus of policy-making and the measure of activity. This perspective on the regulatory state, defined almost in opposition to the welfare state, has been developed most strongly by Majone (1993) in the context of the development of social regulation in the EU. But it can be found in other accounts of the role of the regulatory state in ‘building’ markets, a role which is contrasted with the welfare state roles of redistribution through transfer payments and service provision by public bureaucracies (Sbragia 2000). Characteristic of the regulatory state are non-majoritarian institutions in which technical experts search for socially optimal solutions; the redistributive welfare state, by contrast, is seen as the central policy domain of majoritarian political contestation, in which conflicting interests are represented and policy outcomes depend on negotiation and coalition formation. The difference between the regulatory state and the welfare state can therefore be framed in terms of two contrasting pairs of policy area and policy process, or ‘types of...
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