chapter  6
14 Pages

Where to find a ‘demos’ for controlling global risk regulators? From private to public regulation and back


The state has always been in the ‘business’ of reducing risks and uncertainties for its citizens. Much of its public goods do just that. This holds first for the primary – Hobbesian – task of the state: the protection of its citizens against threats to their life, liberty, and property, be they from domestic or ‘foreign’ origin. In the old days, Hadrian’s, the Chinese, and medieval city walls created visible borders around – and thereby defined – the ‘group’ to be protected; and watch towers, castles, and soldiers kept threats, varying from wandering dogs to foreign enemies, out. Nowadays, institutions such as the coast guard, the customs, airport security checks, and satellites do in principle the same. Other public goods regulate the ‘grid’, the relations within the demarcated ‘group’ (Douglas and Wildavsky 1982). They protect against internal threats: the police against thieves and murderers; hospitals against infectious diseases; and environmental inspectors against unsafe water or unpleasant odours.