P10 – Panel – International Varieties of Risk Regulation

Panel Title:

(P10) International Varieties of Risk Regulation


Henry Rothstein, Reader in Risk and Regulation, King’s College London

David Demeritt, Professor of Geography, King’s College London

Panel Descriptions:

Accounts of the varied ways in which different countries regulate risks to public health, safety and security are replete with anecdote and caricatures. Continental Europeans are claimed to be precautionary and protective, while anglo-saxon countries are said to put more emphasis on cost-benefit analysis and risk-based decision-making. Some countries are presented as very juridified in their approaches to regulating risk, while others are thought to take a more ad hoc and political approach. Some countries seem to value openness and involve the public in decision-making, others appear to be more closed and paternalistic.

There are multiple explanations for such variety. Vogel (2012), for example, argues that changes in public attitudes and the rise of green politics have generated long-term “swings of the regulatory pendulum” in national policy stances, such as the rise of strict health and environmental regulation in the US in the 1960s followed by its relaxation from the 1980s; a pattern he argues is being followed by the EU, albeit with a 20-year lag. Others point to the strength and configuration of national economic interests and trade-protectionism to explain variety, though the sectoral specificity of such arguments suggests that variety within countries may be bigger than variety between them (e.g. Weiner et al 2010). Others have pointed to varied regulatory styles and state traditions entailing a complex mix of ideas about the role of the state vis-à-vis market and societal actors, legal and constitutional traditions, public administration architectures and practices and the organisation of the political economy (e.g. Brickman et al, 1985; Vogel, 1986; Rothstein et al 2013; 2017).

In this panel, we would like to invite papers that compare risk regulation in at least two country contexts. We encourage the contribution of papers that draw on empirical cases from a wide variety of sectoral contexts and country settings in order to generate and test explanations of national variety.


  • Brickman, R., Jasanoff, S., Ilgen, T. (1985) Controlling Chemicals: The Politics of Regulation in Europe and the United States. Cornell University Press
  • Rothstein, H., Borraz, O. and Huber, M. (2013) ‘Risk and the Limits of Governance: Exploring varied patterns of risk-based governance across Europe’. Regulation and Governance. 7 (2): 215-235
  • Rothstein, H., Demeritt, D., Paul, R., Beaussier, A-L., Wesseling, M, Howard, M., de Haan, M., Borraz, O., Huber, M., and Bouder, F. (2017) ‘Varieties of Risk Regulation in Europe: Coordination, complementarity & occupational safety in capitalist welfare states’. Socio-Economic Review. doi: 10.1093/ser/mwx029
  • Vogel, D. (1986) National styles of regulation: environmental policy in Great Britain and the United States, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
  • Vogel, D. 2012. The Politics of Precaution. Princeton University Press
  • Weiner, J, Rogers, M., Hammitt, J., and Sand, P. 2010. The Reality of Precaution: Comparing Risk Regulation in the United States and Europe. Abingdon: Earthscan

Panel Formats:

Traditional Approach


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