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Regulation and voluntarism: A case study of governance in the making


Tamar Barkay, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Tel Aviv University, Ramat Aviv, Tel Aviv-Jaffa 69978 Israel. Email:


In this article I analyze a multi-stakeholder process of environmental regulation. By grounding the article in the literature on regulatory capitalism and governance, I follow the career of a specific legislative process: the enactment of Israel's Deposit Law on Beverage Containers, which aims to delegate the responsibility for recycling to industry. I show that one crucial result of this process was the creation of a non-profit entity licensed to act as a compliance mechanism. This new entity enabled industry to distance itself from the responsibility of recycling, and thereby frustrated the original objective of the legislation, which was to implement the principle of “extended producer responsibility.” Furthermore, this entity, owned by commercial companies and yet acting as an environmentally friendly organization, allowed industry to promote an anti-regulatory agenda via a “civic voice.” The study moves methodologically from considering governance as an institutional structure to analyzing the process of “governancing,” through which authoritative capacities and legal responsibilities are distributed among state and non-state actors. Two key findings are that this process and its outcome (i) are premised on an ideology of civic voluntarism, which ultimately delegates environmental responsibilities to citizens; and (ii) facilitate an anti-regulatory climate that serves commercial interests.