From dismantling by default to symbolic dismantling? Water policy in the United Kingdom

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter examines how the transition to a more multi-level system of water governance in Britain has affected the way in which dismantling was conceived of and pursued. It does so by analysing two potential cases of dismantling in the UK water sector where politicians appeared to have a strong preference to dismantle: the 1974 Control of Pollution Act and the 1992 attempt to dismantle EU environmental legislation via a so-called ‘hit list’. The analysis emphasizes two broader points: First, research that seeks to study dismantling in heavily Europeanized sectors should account for the EU's role (direct and indirect) in dismantling activities at both levels of governance. Second, examining dismantling as a discrete, time-bound event runs the risk of overlooking the importance of deeper historical processes and longer-term dynamics. Attention should also be paid to the importance of extended causal chains, of unintended consequences, and of processes that unfold gradually over time.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDismantling Public Policy: Interests, Opportunities, Strategies and Effects
EditorsM Bauer, A Jordan, C Green-Pedersen, A Héretier
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • policy dismantling
  • dismantling by default
  • symbolic action
  • environmental policy
  • water policy
  • multi-level governance
  • British Politics

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