To Command and Commodify: Power and the Marketization of Environmental Regulation

Saturday, June 25, 2016: 4:15 PM-5:45 PM
88 Dwinelle (Dwinelle Hall)
Chris Rea, UCLA, Los Angeles, CA
State-directed but market-oriented forms of environmental regulation, like cap-and-trade and habitat offsetting, have proliferated in the past two decades, but sociologists have been slow to theorize these broad institutional shifts. This article offers a framework for explaining these processes of regulatory marketization. First, the author argues that many of these institutions are examples command-and-commodify regulation, which works by authoritatively forcing actors into a market for ‘offsets,’ but thereafter allows market dynamics to regulate economic action. Second, the author develops a theory of market reconstruction to explain the development of command-and-commodify regulation in environmental contexts. This approach focuses on the ways social conflicts shift authoritative and economic power in ways characteristic of these institutions. Third, the author presents a detailed case study of species conservation banking in the United States in order to illustrate the theoretical framework developed in the first two parts. Together, a theory of command-and-commodify regulation and market reconstruction may be useful for explaining the development of a wide variety of environmentally focused and other regulatory institutions.