During the last two years, politics and policy has turned rapidly from a long-faltering and sporadic rearguard effort to maintain competition in reaction to monopolistic on-line platform firms and markets towards the comprehensive regulation of their structures, strategies, and behaviours. With remarkable speed rarely seen in significant policy areas, the concentration of power and wealth within online platform firms and markets, along with the revolutionary changes they have unleashed on economic, social, and political life (Cusumano, Gawer, & Yoffie, 2019), have triggered a political economic backlash (Cioffi, Kenney, and Zysman, 2021; Kenney, Zysman, & Bearson, 2020). This political and juridical inflection point is increasingly likely to transform the governance and thus the character of Big Tech and the most dynamic areas of contemporary capitalism. An expansion of governmental regulatory authority and comprehensive prescriptive regulation of platform firms and markets is a prominent emergent policy agenda of policy makers around the world proposing a growing number of major interventionist regulatory initiatives. Competition has not been abandoned as an objective, but it is no longer sufficient — or even necessary — as a norm underpinning political and socio-economic order in the digital age. We have entered a new era of regulation and the regulatory state.
John W. Cioffi is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Riverside. His current research investigates conflicts of interest as products of complex legal, political, and institutional processes that pose a persistent insidious threat to democratic politics and the rule of law.
John W. Cioffi (2021). Beyond Competition: The Regulatory Turn & the Emerging Era of Intervention in Platform Firms & Markets, Governing Work in the Digital Age.