Regulation and social capital

network_attribute to cobalt123 on flickr

Project leader(s)

Why is regulation associated with domination? Why do people see regulation as a cost or burden? Why isn’t regulation seen as something that improves the quality of life? The broad aim of this project is to explain why we often waver in our trust in regulatory systems and to consider what is needed in the way of dialogue to establish respectful relations with communities and improve regulatory effectiveness.

This project investigates the argument that communities expect government to put in place regulatory systems that protect and offer benefits; they expect justice in regulatory goals and practice; and they expect regulatory systems that display integrity and affirm integrity, strengthening moral codes of conduct. Regulatory systems, however, sometimes fail to meet these expectations. Most notably, regulatory systems don’t always make sense to people and also sometimes fall short in delivering desirable outcomes. When regulation seems pointless and ineffective, implementation of and compliance with regulation become unwelcome impositions. Rules may be subverted – sometimes overtly, more often covertly; and in the process communities distance themselves from the regulating authority. With this distance comes cynicism in the form of loss of trust and hope. As a result, community members are reluctant to step up to the mark to offer cooperation to authorities. The result is that authorities have difficulty mobilising social and human capital in the regulatory process.

The project tests the propositions of this argument at 8 different ‘hot-spots’ where government is using its authority to shape the behaviours of citizens. The regulatory efforts at these hot-spots are designed to deliver: (a) quality hospital care; (b) economic and social well-being through income management for Indigenous Australians; (c) more efficient and equitable taxation for small business; (d) economic well-being for older Australians through superannuation; (e) prevention of school bullying; (f) higher quality schools through public rankings of school performance; (g) environmental sustainability through better water management in rural Australia; and (h) social cohesion in the resettlement of humanitarian refugees.

Image: Dr Deb Clelend (RegNet)

Deb Cleland accepted as a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

21 May 2019

RegNet Post-Doctoral Fellow, Deb Cleland has been accepted as a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Membership as a Fellow recognises Deb’s expertise and experience in university teaching.

Eliza Ahmed

Dr Eliza Ahmed

Dr Eliza Ahmed is a Clinical Psychologist. Her research interests lie in the regulation of rule violation as it relates to shame/pride management, interpersonal relationships, and the processes of...

Image: Emeritus Professor Valerie Braithwaite

Valerie Braithwaite

Valerie Braithwaite is an interdisciplinary social scientist with a disciplinary background in psychology. She has taught in social and clinical psychology programs at undergraduate and graduate...

Image: Dr Deborah Cleland (RegNet)

Dr Deb Cleland

Dr Deborah (Deb) Cleland is the lead advisor for a Greens MLA in the ACT Parliament, providing strategic advice across offices on the portfolios...


Ms Sharynne Hamilton

Sharynne Hamilton began working at RegNet in 2010, when she became the ANU’s first Indigenous Intern.  As an undergraduate student, Sharynne worked with RegNet’s...

Nathan Harris

Dr Nathan Harris

Dr Nathan Harris is a Clinical Psychologist. Previously he has held appointments as a Lecturer at the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge, and a Post-Doctoral Fellowship at the...

Image: Mary Ivec (RegNet)

Ms Mary Ivec

Mary Ivec holds post-graduate degrees in social policy, social work and counselling having completed her Bachelor of Arts (Sociology and Politics) at the ANU. Mary has...

Dr Jenny Job

Jenny Job is currently Director of Research and Evaluation in Safe Work Australia, an Australian Government statutory agency with the primary responsibility of improving work health and safety and...


Dr Helene Shin

Helene is visiting from the Department of Social Services, where she is Content Development and Survey Design Lead at the National Centre for Longitudinal Data.

Helene was involved in the...

 Society, safety and health cluster hero

Society, safety and health

The Society, Safety and Health cluster has four research themes:

  • Policy processes and the social determinants of health inequities
  • Governance for health equity
  • Food systems, nutrition and climate change
  • Regulation and governance of health care systems

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet