• civil society;
  • global South;
  • expertise;
  • non-state actors;
  • regulatory state


The basic rationale of the regulatory state is to insulate certain kinds of decisionmaking from political actors. The main purpose of this commentary is to assess the ways that members of civil society, in fact, often shadow and contest the central actors of the regulatory state, even though they are ostensibly well outside it. I offer three distinctions to help broaden and sharpen analysis of the roles and impact of civil society actors: whether civil society actors have special expertise or not; whether the regulatory state is being put in place or already exists; and whether civil society actions are broadly complementary to, or substitutive of, state action. In discussing each of these, I also explore the consequences of the transfer of the regulatory state to the global South, and the way that change in location shapes both the role and impact of civil society and the regulatory state itself.