Regulatory Disempowerment: How Enabling and Controlling Forms of Power Obstruct Citizen-based Regulation

Regulation & Governance (Forthcoming)

Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2020-29

General Subserie Research Paper No. 2020-11

52 Pages Posted: 28 May 2020 Last revised: 8 Jun 2020

See all articles by Garry Gray

Garry Gray

University of Victoria

Benjamin van Rooij

University of California, Irvine School of Law; University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Law

Date Written: May 19, 2020

Abstract

Regulatory studies assume that citizens can act as regulators to complement or correct failing state and market forms of regulation. Yet, there is a growing literature that shows that in reality citizens may fail to be effective regulators. This paper systematically analyses how power inequalities obstruct citizens in their regulatory roles. It compares four case studies with highly different social and political contexts but with similar outcomes of citizens failing to regulate risk. The case studies are analyzed by operationalizing sociological and political science ideas about manifestations of enabling and controlling forms of power in order to understand the way power inequalities obstruct citizens in their regulatory roles across diverse contexts. The article shows how citizens, from farmers and manual workers in both authoritarian developing and democratic developed contexts to even highly trained medical professionals from the US, have limited agency and are disempowered to act as regulators. Our analysis reveals that five patterns of disempowerment play a crucial role in obstructing successful society-based regulation: (i) dependency, (ii) capacity, (iii) social hierarchy, (iv) discursive framing, and (v) perverse effects of legal rights.

Keywords: Power, Inequality, Regulatory Governance, Citizen-based regulation, New governance

JEL Classification: K23, K42

Suggested Citation

Gray, Garry and van Rooij, Benjamin, Regulatory Disempowerment: How Enabling and Controlling Forms of Power Obstruct Citizen-based Regulation (May 19, 2020). Regulation & Governance (Forthcoming), Amsterdam Law School Research Paper No. 2020-29, General Subserie Research Paper No. 2020-11, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3604995

Garry Gray

University of Victoria ( email )

Canada

Benjamin Van Rooij (Contact Author)

University of California, Irvine School of Law ( email )

401 E. Peltason Dr.
Ste. 1000
Irvine, CA 92697-1000
United States

University of Amsterdam - Faculty of Law ( email )

Amsterdam, 1018 WB
Netherlands

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