Regional social regulation in Latin America: A new agenda for development? Prospects and challenges (SOCIAL-REG)
Understanding the significance of social regulation and its impact on the Global South is vital for the disciplines of International Relations, Politics, International Political Sociology and International Development. For this reason, this research proposal is an effort to study the diffusion of regulation at the regional level primarily through an interdisciplinary perspective drawing upon recent contributions made by political science, international political economy, sociology and law, while combining conceptual and empirical social science. Specifically, the project explores and evaluates the expansion and diffusion of social policy regulation, provision and empowerment processes that occur at the regional tier of governance in the Global South. Despite the resurgence of regionalism and intraregional relations since the late 1980s and the resilience of regional institutions during and after the economic crises of the late 1990s and early 2000s, sustained and comparative analyses on regulatory governance in the developing world are still in short supply. Given the changing power configurations and the rise of regional powers that challenge the more normative global governance scripts, this issue demands closer examination to understand state-market relationships, regional cooperation and North-South relations, and the meaning of international development itself. The research will thus make an original contribution by bringing together for the first time three traditionally separate research strands in the social sciences: regionalism, regulation and development. Moreover, it will reveal how and to what extent the articulation of emerging forms of regulatory regimes at the regional level shapes the development space via the provision of public goods otherwise unattainable by national governments, which rely on often very limited regulatory capacity (Braithwaite 2006).
Building on, but seeking to go beyond the European Union (EU) experience, this is backed by a detailed comparative analysis of three regional blocs in Latin America to illustrate the re-emergence of the region as a unit to mitigate the negative effects of market instability derived from globalisation (Telò 2001; Beeson 2007), and as development space for managing uncertainties through social regulation (Yeates and Deacon 2006; Deacon et al. 2010). The project will focus on social policy regulation and provision in gender equality, health and higher education in the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA), the Common Market of the South (Mercosur) and the Union of South American Nations (Unasur). In so doing, the study will bring in complementary and interdisciplinary expertise in regulatory governance, regional integration studies and (social) policy analysis to outline how regulation and national and regional regulatory regimes interact, intersect and impact development in the context of global regulation. The research will hence fill an intellectual gap and provide insights that will be useful for academics and policy makers alike in Europe and Latin America.