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The Political Regulation of Technological Risks

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This paper addresses the debate on the political regulation of technological risks currently taking place in the fields of policy analysis, research on neo-corporatism and sociological theory, and then goes on to interrelate these areas of research and discourse. It starts with the assumption that political regulation takes place in the interpenetration zone between the different functional subsystems of social action; subsystems which operate according to their own laws analytically, but merge in concrete social action empirically. Political regulation is an arena in which we can study the interchange between these functional subsystems and the reciprocal transformation of communication media. The paper discusses four ideal-typical models of interchange: synthesis, competition, statism and compromise. These models have specific effects on the formulation of political regulation in terms of its effectiveness and flexibility. The dynamics of political regulation are characterized by processes of upswing, downswing, inflation, deflation and recession. The theory of generalized communication media provides the analytical tools for investigating these dynamic processes. Due to limited space, the paper concentrates on the interchange between the political system and the societal community and the reciprocal transformation and dynamic processing of political power and influence.


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