The Irony of Regulatory Reform

The Irony of Regulatory Reform : The Deregulation of American Telecommunications

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Deregulation was a political buzzword of the early 1980's. The Reagan Administration came to power on a platform dedicated to getting government "off the backs of the people." Deregulation promised to lower inflation, raise productivity, and reverse the sagging fortunes of American industry. And proponents declared deregulation morally right because it constituted a rollback of the arbitrary power of the state in favor of individual initiative and liberty. But the actual politics of deregulation, including the momentous breakup of AT&T, had already turned out to be far more complex than this rhetoric suggested. In The Irony of Regulatory Reform Horwitz examines the history of telecommunications-both telephone and broadcast-to build a compelling new theory of regulation. Against the backdrop of modern theories of the state, he presents a sweeping survey of the history of regulation in America, delineating three distinct periods of regulatory genesis and, correspondingly, three discrete types of agencies. Horwitz shows the underlying irony that while anti-regulation rhetoric was aimed at the so-called "social" regulatory agencies, in practice it has been the "economic" agencies that have been deregulated, often with vehement opposition from the industries affected. Within the context of this broader theory, telecommunications is a fascinating industry to study, because it determines the character of our marketplace of ideas, because it has been an arena of great technological transformation, and because of its fundamental role in anchoring the so-called "information age." Horwitz unveils the complex mosaic of forces-economic, political, legal, and technological-that undermined the traditional regulation of telecommunications and precipitated deregulation.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 424 pages
  • 157 x 234.4 x 28.2mm | 651.92g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 0195069994
  • 9780195069990

About Robert Britt Horwitz

Robert Britt Horwitz is Associate Professor of Communication at the University of California, San Diego.show more

Review quote

Ironies abound in this lucid critique of a reform movement that has succeeded mainly in confounding its oddly coupled instigators. With a merciful minimum of academic jargon, Horwitz probes the many-splendored realities of deregulation....A cogent analysis of the mischief that can occur when ideologues join forces to apply political solutions to socioeconomic problems....For anyone interested in how the law of unintended consequences works in the real world. * Kirkus Reviews * His book can be read with benefit both by those new to the field (for he includes well-summarized historical material throughout) and by those who have lived with telecommunications change over recent decades (for he stands back and provides a clear picture, with benefit of hindsight and a theoretical framework, of the many seemingly conflicting trends). * Telecommunications Policy * A major contribution....Offers an unusually comprehensive and useful overview of the complex history and theory of American economic and social regulation and should become a staple of courses on media law and policy. * Journalism Quarterly * Horwitz has placed the entire history of telecommunications regulation against a background of regulatory policy in general and has written a very effective account of the history of telecommunications regulation in general. The telecommunications section in particular is first rate and won't be readily superseded. * Brian Winston, Pennsylvania State University * Well worth recommending. Horwitz has unusual command over a complex subject, writes with a real concern to set the historical record straight, and, unlike many theorists in the area, has no particular ideological axe to grind. His judgments are balanced and nuanced, his curiosity keen, and his scholarship deep. * Alan Wolfe, Contemporary Sociology * A finely detailed work of scholarship that is particularly strong in its review of the various theories of political and regulatory behavior. * Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media * Definitely recommended reading for anyone at all interested in U.S. regulation. * Social Science Quarterly * Thoroughly researched, effectively organized, and unusually well written...Deals with important subject matter analytically and raises interesting and thoughtful interpretative issues on almost every page. Of all the books that I have read on deregulation, this is the best so far. * Business History Review * A valuable contribution to understanding U.S. society of the 1990s....A well-crafted, important history of the politics, bureaucracy, and marketplace of telecommunications....An informative, thoroughly researched, and timely analysis of our cable news network society...Contributes significantly to the literature of partisan, policy, and systems politics, enhancing our understanding of the every-increasing complex relations between government...and business. * American Political Science Review *show more

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