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Title: Understanding the role of consumer organisations in policy making and regulation in the UK and Norway : do they matter?
Author: Allen, Henry
Awarding Body: University of East Anglia
Current Institution: University of East Anglia
Date of Award: 2013
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Neoliberalism constructs a particular version of consumers as existing individually and within markets, and not collectively outside of markets where regulation and policy is made. This undermines the individual’s ability, as a consumer, to influence how markets are constructed and regulated. This thesis investigates the role of consumer organisations in contemporary policy making and regulation, asking how they matter in terms of their representation of individuals. In so doing, it assesses the position of consumer organisations in the UK and Norway in terms both of their institutionalisation, and their intermediation with other political actors. The principal argument is that investigating consumer organisations illuminates the complex and deeply political relationships between states, markets and civil society. More specifically, it argues that despite the fact that consumer organisations have a relatively privileged position in terms of their involvement in decision-making, and that developments in governance have encouraged stakeholder inclusion, they remain largely peripheral to regulatory and policy processes. This undermines the potential collective power of consumers over how markets are regulated. Through a discourse analysis of elite interviews with consumer organisations, regulators and policymakers, it is found that their relevance remains largely dependent on a combination of the ideas, issues and ideologies involved in policy making and regulation. This is despite attempts to ensure that it is consumers’ interests that are seen as paramount in the institutional design of the regulatory state. This thesis, through a thick description analysis of consumer organisations in policy making and regulation, problematizes the development of the regulatory state and the inclusion of consumer interests as a counter-balance to industry and agency pressures. In so doing it offers original insights into some of the variegated political dimensions of contemporary neoliberal capitalism, most specifically the ways in which people are represented in construction of regulation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available