Decentralized Enforcement

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= an aspect of contemporary global governance, a concept from Kanishka Jayasuriya


Jeb Sprague:

"You have previously written about the emergence of a global regulatory regime characterized by processes of “decentralized enforcement”, whereby supranational institutions lay down standards for member states and monitor their compliance rather than directly regulating their activities (Jayasuriya, 1999, p. 452). You also suggest that different institutions within national states have become mechanisms for internalized regulation and jumping-off points for transnational governance practices."

Kanishka Jayasuriya (KJ):

"My work, particularly on the regulatory state, has emphasized the transformation of the state via complex systems of multi-level regulation, meta-governance, and systems of soft law, all of which enable the trans-nationalization of the state apparatus (1999; 2001a; and 2001b). This approach has a lot in common with the transnational state perspective (e.g. Robinson, 2001a; and 2004), although my approach differs in that it places the emphasis on how, and through what mechanisms, regulatory regimes become the centre of political conflict within the state. Equally, my work has sought to emphasize the often fragmented and contradictory character of the emerging regulatory and administrative rules and standards that shape transnational regulation. It is the understanding of the nature and dynamics of these regulatory rules that should be at the heart of the analysis of transnational governance.


I think this regulatory shift, which, as I have argued, involves substantial multi-level governance within the state, will not be easily reversed as a result of the crisis. Indeed, in my view there is already an intensification of regulatory governance rather than any shift back towards a more direct role for the state reminiscent of post-war Keynesianism. My short answer is that changes are likely to occur within the regulatory state — in actors, instruments, and agencies — but no fundamental shift is likely in the form or nature of regulatory governance.

The reason for this is, as I have tried to indicate in my recent publications, that the shift from what I have called ‘social constitutionalism’ to ‘economic constitutionalism’ is driven by changes in ‘work’ and ‘war’. The twin transformation of the social settlement within advanced industrial states and the end of the Cold War heralded a change in the politics that was based on the constitutional and political recognition of class politics. This social settlement had a global dimension because the Cold Car was essentially a social and political conflict between competing economic and social systems. In a similar way this conflict between the two major superpowers was also fundamental to the way in which these social and political conflicts were played out in the Third World. This point is of course central to the argument of Odd Arne Westad in his book The Global Cold War (2007). The core of my argument is that changes in ‘work’ and ‘war’ have resulted in a shift towards a form of economic constitutionalism geared towards the promotion and regulation of economic order. For this reason the deep-seated structural transformation of the state over the last three decades means that we cannot simply go back to the ‘social constitutional’ order of the post-Second World War period. Nevertheless some important changes are now underway in the nature and form of regulatory governance.

Some of the significant changes are:

1. The emphasis on the concept and practice of the ‘systemic regulation of risk’ of financial governance. This is potentially an important and intriguing development in that it seeks to create new notions of ‘public responsibility’ within forms of market governance. In this sense it represents an amplification of the idea of market citizenship, which I have discussed in my book Statecraft, Welfare and the Politics of Inclusion (2006), as well as in other work I have done on accountability communities (2008b; 2008c; and 2010a). The significance of this notion of ‘systemic risk’ lies in the way it creates a public domain within market-based regulatory governance operating across national boundaries. In other words, forms of ‘publicness’ are created within market-centered forms of governance. This to me is an intriguing development that signals an important move away from pre-crisis forms of regulatory governance. Indeed one of the striking elements of the Obama Presidency (as well as the social democratic government of Kevin Rudd or Gordon Brown) is exactly this ‘third way’ approach to regulatory governance. It reflects one strand of regulation that socializes neoliberalism in a way that opens up interesting political possibilities.

2. The other crucial element of recent regulatory changes is the development of hybrid public-private forms of governance such as that exemplified in the institutional design of the Troubled Asset Relief Program in the US. What matters here is not whether actors are public or private per se; it is that the relationship between these actors within new institutional settings challenges the distinction between the ‘public’ and the ‘private’ and undermines the ‘national-global’ binary created by Weberian and Westphalian notions of statehood. I suspect that these new institutional ensembles of public and private will become increasingly important within emerging forms of governance." (

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