Journal of Law and Society

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  • An Ecological Approach to Regulatory Studies?

    Regulatory studies has been mainly occupied with addressing the social and economic crises of contemporary capitalism through instrumentally and responsively rational approaches. This article asks how regulatory scholarship can better respond to the ecological crisis now facing our world and our governance systems alongside social and economic crises. There are both possibilities and problems with instrumentally rational regulatory approaches that see human ecological impact as an externality or market failure and socio‐legal approaches to regulatory studies that emphasize the need to attend to the social and political aspects of regulation using a responsively rational approach. A third big shift towards an ecologically rational approach to regulatory studies is needed to comprehend our embeddedness within ecological systems. An ecologically rational approach also calls for an understanding of how multiple, diverse ways of sustainable being can intersect with and challenge current regulatory regimes dominated by an instrumentally rational approach.

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  • Introduction: Law for a New Economy: Enterprise, Sharing, Regulation
  • Redefining the Corporation for a Sustainable New Economy

    ‘Business as usual’ is a very certain path towards a very uncertain future. On the ‘business as usual’ trajectory, the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), epitomizing the overarching goals of global society, is unlikely. A fundamental transition away from ‘business as usual’ and onto a sustainable path is necessary. However, the SDGs themselves do not seem informed by a recognition of a potential conflict between indefinite economic growth and planetary boundaries. This article posits that this is symptomatic of our economic system, and turns to the dominant business form – the corporation – to discuss its significance as a barrier to and potential as a driver for sustainability. Drawing on multi‐jurisdictional, comparative research, the article presents a reform proposal, challenging the shareholder‐primacy drive, and ending on a positive note with the potential of corporate contribution to systemic change.

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  • Regulating Crowd Equity Funding – the Why and the How

    Crowd equity funding is a form of sharing economy that allows companies to obtain seed or other capital through small equity investments from a large range of investors via an online portal. Investors receive shares in the company in return for their investment. This form of finance has been viewed as a way to remedy the shortfall of capital for small and medium enterprises. However, in certain jurisdictions the regulation of this form of sharing economy is akin to that used for the traditional economy. This has created hurdles to the growth of this alternate form of finance. Accordingly, this article provides a snapshot of the regulation that applies to crowd equity funding in different jurisdictions to highlight the flaws of such regulatory approaches. The article concludes by advocating that an ‘outside‐the‐box’ solution may be needed to regulate this emerging industry.

  • Telling Stories Beautifully: Hybrid Legal Forms in the New Economy

    This article explores the expressive and constitutive dimensions of hybrid legal forms emerging as vehicles for grass‐roots innovations that seek to forge renewed economic trajectories. Drawing on a relational perspective, it analyses company constitutions, and crowdfunding offers based on them. It explores the ways in which the practices of forming a legal entity and raising finance to support its growth relate to a broader narrative of creating initiatives for a sustainable economy, one that radically reworks the priority of social and environmental objectives in economic organizations. A closer examination of three specific initiatives from Australia illustrates the ways in which dynamic engagement with legal form can enable, loosen or magnify relationality. This approach helps illuminate the ways in which formal legal structure for economic enterprise is both an inherently regulatory vehicle, but also a site for the mediation and stabilization of patterns of exchange.

  • ‘BorrowMyDoggy.Com’: Rethinking Peer‐to‐peer Exchange for Genuine Sharing

    This article re‐examines what constitutes genuine sharing in peer‐to‐peer collaborative transactions by contrasting a pet owner‐borrower matching initiative to other enterprises such as Uber and Airbnb. It argues that aims of public spiritedness and community building through interactions are essential for sustaining peer‐to‐peer collaborations. When money is the focal point of exchange, the collaborative relationship is motivated by profit making rather than goals of sustainability, well‐being or good citizenship. Interactions that create new kinds of connections within communities (rather than replacing traditional connections with cheaper or more accessible ones) are more likely to generate a genuine sharing ethos. The chief implication of the case study is that collaborators need to think carefully about objectives and means of exchange. Capturing new kinds of productive relationships, which are not overly reliant on the exchange of money, may contribute to genuine exchange and enhance community relations, leading to greater cultural citizenship.

  • Beyond the Shareholder Corporation: Alternative Business Forms and the Contestation of Markets

    This article considers various, established and emerging, alternative business forms that differ categorically from the traditional corporation in terms of their governance, objectives, and/or ownership structures, including mission‐led businesses, social enterprises, cooperatives, and co‐owned firms. Notwithstanding their considerable diversity, the underpinning pattern of these alternatives points towards a stakeholder model of corporate governance that commits the firm to generating value by maximizing the positive impact on its (internal and external) stakeholders while limiting negative impacts, with trade‐offs carefully balanced against each other. Through these commitments, the firm internalizes a process of democratic contestation: a procedure to mediate the different interests of these market actors is incorporated directly into the structure of the firm, through procedural mechanisms embedded within its internal constitution.

  • Alternative Imaginings of Regulation: An Experiment in Co‐production

    Despite decades of regulatory scholarship that took responsive regulation and regulatory space as starting points, much regulatory practice still has little focus on the experiences of those at the ‘sharp end’ of regulation. This article develops some of the insights from a five‐year research programme that aimed to explore what regulatory systems might look like if they took seriously the idea of ‘regulating for engagement’, working with community organizations to understand how regulation is experienced ‘at the margins’. We argue that the methodology of co‐production expands our ways of knowing by allowing in expertise‐by‐experience to the deliberative processes of regulation; the creative processes that artists bring in can produce artefacts that have an important role in developing ‘really responsive regulation’.

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