When governments systematically fail to ensure that a policy is implemented, while at the same time keeping that policy in place, this can result in a reality where certain regulations are simultaneously officially present but informally absent. In this paper, I derive from the case of rental housing in the Netherlands that such non-enforcement can be understood as a technique of governance. Here, rules on security of tenure, rent ceilings and maintenance are in theory strong, but in practice knowledge of these regulations is almost non-existent, and enforcement is so weak that the rules have become largely meaningless. Through analysing political and bureaucratic documents, and drawing on my previous ethnographic research, I argue that keeping regulations in place that are largely unknown to citizens and unenforced by authorities can function as a policy mechanism in its own right, as a method to secure and transmit the objectives of government in a more subtle way than explicit, top-down exertion of power. I conclude that non-enforcement as a technique of governance, previously overlooked by most research, deserves our attention, not just because of its effects on policy processes but also because of its impact on citizens.
|Number of pages||30|
|Journal||European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 14 Nov 2018|
- policy mechanism
- case-study research
- rental housing