Approaches to Risk and Consumer Policy in Financial Service Regulation in the UK


  • Peter Lunt Brunel University
  • Sonia Livingstone London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Tanika Kelay University of Surrey
  • Laura Miller Brunel University



regulation, dialogue, rhetorical analysis, risk, public awareness


The financial service and communication sectors in the UK have been subject to radical re-organisation, involving the formation of sector-wide regulatory bodies (FSA and Ofcom) with wide-ranging powers and statutory obligations. Although both have responsibilities for assessment and management of risk, their remits go beyond traditional approaches to regulation. Hence, although primarily oriented to economic policy, both regulators address questions of corporate responsibility, balance of stakeholder interests, the public good, consumer representation and public participation. Accordingly, they are undertaking a range of activities, including consumer education and research, public consultation and the involvement of stakeholders in policy review. Focusing on the case of financial services, this paper presents an analysis of two early speeches by FSA directors, one focused on the approach to risk adopted by the regulator and the other on consumer policy. The second part of the paper considers the conceptual issues regarding different modes of risk management in the new regulators, requiring an account of the various levels and forms of involvement by stakeholders and publics in the identification and management of risk. It follows on from the analysis of the speeches to examine the relationship between risk and consumer policy in the practices of the FSA. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0601323


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Author Biographies

Peter Lunt, Brunel University

Peter LUNT, is a professor in the school of social sciences and law at Brunel University UK. He has worked on the mediation of public participation and has a long-standing interest in questions of identity in relation to material culture and media consumption, the psychology of the television audience, the role of the media in public participation and debate (Talk on Television, with Sonia LIVINGSTONE; Routledge, 1994) and consumer psychology. His research has been supported by a number of grants from the Economic and Social Research Council and the European Commission.

Sonia Livingstone, London School of Economics and Political Science

Sonia LIVINGSTONE is Professor of Social Psychology and a member of the Department of Media and Communications at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She has an established background in researching how audiences interpret and use the media; her most recent work concerns children, young people and the internet, as part of a broader interest in the domestic, familial and educational contexts of new media access and use ( Sonia is also Non-Industry Vice Chair of the Internet Watch Foundation.

Tanika Kelay, University of Surrey

Tanika KELAY is a research fellow at the University of Surrey, with a background in public understandings of science. Her main research interests include risk perception, the socio-political structures of environmental issues, the sociology of scientific knowledge, and implications for public participation and public negotiation of environmental and scientific issues. She has also undertaken research on how experts construct publics, and how experts interpret and implement policy within organisations.

Laura Miller, Brunel University

Laura MILLER is a research fellow in the school of social sciences and law at Brunel University UK with a background in social psychology and sociology. Her interests include research into racial and gendered identities-both in mainstream contexts and on the political fringes. She has also undertaken research into public understandings and cultural presentations of "psychology" in contemporary "risk society", exploring its role in mitigating people's sense of vulnerability.




How to Cite

Lunt, P., Livingstone, S., Kelay, T., & Miller, L. (2006). Approaches to Risk and Consumer Policy in Financial Service Regulation in the UK. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 7(1).



Government, Regulation and Risk