Opinion‐Responsive Government and Risk Regulation

Christopher Hood, Henry Rothstein and Robert Baldwin

in The Government of Risk

Published in print August 2001 | ISBN: 9780199243631
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191599507 | DOI:
 Opinion‐Responsive Government and Risk Regulation

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Explores the logic of basing risk regulation on mass popular opinion and explores the extent and conditions in which state regulation of risk reflects general public opinion. The chapter draws together existing empirical evidence about public attitudes towards the nine case‐study risks and presents a substantial and original analysis of the salience of those risks in UK newspapers over 12 years to 1998. Analysis suggests that public opinion is certainly a shaper of risk regulation regimes, most obviously in relation to some standard‐setting activities, but it appears to be a constraint or support rather than the key driver. Regulatory activity appears to be better explained by the contingent alignment and relative strengths of other forces shaping regimes. Moreover, the chapter also identifies four important strategies employed by regulators for managing misalignments between public preferences and the preferences of policy experts or other organized interests.

Keywords: media salience; newspapers; organized interests; policy experts; public opinion; risk regulation; regulators; standards; United Kingdom

Chapter.  9177 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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