Disrupting Regulatory Practices: The Contentious Politics of Vaping and Fracking
Paper submitted to panel FC52: Confounding Conventions; Disrupting Practices, International Studies Association Annual Convention, San Francisco
This paper investigates how technological innovations disrupt established practices in the realm of transnational market regulation. Specifically, I explain how two examples of disruptive innovation, electronic cigarettes and hydraulic fracturing, set off contentious political debates in the European Union that challenged the foundational arrangements of tobacco control and energy policy. By linking the sociology of disruption to international practice theory, I conceptualize the disruption of regulatory practices as an endogenous social process that plays out through patterns of interaction between regulators, market actors, and activists. The paper draws on fieldwork conducted in Brussels in 2014-15 when both of these debates were highly topical. While both case studies demonstrate the capacity of disruptive innovations such as fracking and vaping to undermine established practices, they differ in the variety of new disruptive practices that arise out of the patterns of social interaction observed in each case.
This project receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant Agreement No 722826.