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Theorizing Command-and-Commodify Regulation: the Case of Species Conservation Banking in the United States

Published Date April 01, 2017
Research Type
Authors Christopher Rea


State-directed but market-oriented forms of regulation, especially environmental examples like cap-and-trade and ecological 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, I argue that institutions of this sort are examples of what I call command-and-commodify regulation, a mode of regulation that distinctively hybridizes economic and authoritative dimensions of power. Second, I explain how and why one example of command-and-commodify regulation, species conservation banking, emerged and remained concentrated in California, but did not so easily develop in other American states. Finally, abstracting from the case, I argue that the concept of market reconstruction is useful for developing a more general theory of the ways that social conflicts and mobilization reconfigure regulatory power, and thus give rise to new modes of regulation. 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.

2017 Rea, Christopher M. “Theorizing command-and-commodify regulation: the case of species conservation banking in the United States.” Theory & Society 46(1), 21-56. DOI: 10.1007/s11186-017-9283-5