Accepted paper:

Epistemic regimes: the case of regulating chemicals in the European Union


Stefan Böschen (RWTH Aachen University)

Paper short abstract:

The paper is investigating into the changes of the regulation of chemicals in the European Union under REACH. This legislation forms the basis of e new epistemic experimentalism within regulation affecting the coordination of different views on chemicals.

Paper long abstract:

The regulation of chemicals is a case in point to observe the shift in regulatory strategies from a knowledge-based towards a non-knowledge oriented approach of regulation. This was done in 2006 to establish a regulation realizing the precautionary principle. Aligning with this regulation a complex procedure to govern knowledge was established. In the new regulation the relevant knowledge has now to be reported by the industry and the new formed ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) has to control and to decide about the applications. As this process is quite complex, it was decided as early as REACH was introduced to have a review process after ten years. In the meantime, this review process with regard to this procedure, its strengths and weaknesses, was set up. This is a quite appropriate point in time for analysing the processes of reorganizing the field of constructing authoritative knowledge while the demands were increased and as the same time the ways of constructing authoritative knowledge were put into a new division of labour. The bunch of processes aligning this shift I would like to call the emergence of an epistemic regime. With Foucault, epistemic regimes can be seen as set of practices, rules and regulations which not only regulates conflicts about epistemic quality and the acknowledgement of epistemic authority but also forms the preconditions for regulation.

panel A12
Meet our chemicals: ubiquitous presence, selective views