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Paradigms, policy and governance: the politics of energy regulation in the UK post-2000

Fudge, S., Peters, M., Mulugetta, Y. and Jackson, T. (2011) Paradigms, policy and governance: the politics of energy regulation in the UK post-2000. Environmental Policy and Governance, 21 (4). pp. 291-302. ISSN 1756-9338

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1002/eet.574


This paper considers the debate around energy policy and government regulation in the UK, considering Helm's idea that the current period can be conceptualized as a distinct ideological paradigm in the same way that both nationalization and privatization were enmeshed within particular political and economic goals. As he reasons, the first paradigm was based on nationalization and had the purpose of bringing vital services under public ownership and the second paradigm was constructed around the premises of liberalization and privatization. Drawing on the work of Mitchell, the paper explores Helm's observations on the link between ‘paradigms and policy’ to suggest that the failings of a market‐based approach to addressing climate change and energy security argue that a more radical shift in direction and thinking is needed. In particular, it is argued that the UK Government's more recent targets on reducing carbon emissions suggest the need for an energy policy agenda that is more clearly de‐linked from the current emphasis on market solutions and associated political thinking. It is argued that such a transition in policy would need to revolve around Kuhn's pre‐conditions of a ‘gestalt switch’ – as indicated in both previous UK regulatory approaches to energy. We suggest that, in much the same way as the dominant scientific consensus structured Kuhn's original conception of a paradigm, such a shift in policy will involve a ‘gestalt switch’, and a politically led shift away from the influence of thinking which currently remains rooted in previous infrastructural and ideological legacies.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of the Built Environment > Urban Living group
ID Code:94456
Publisher:John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment

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