What will the regulatory state of the South (RSoS) look like in the coming decade? This paper takes stock of contemporary practices of institutional reform in development, and their historical trajectory, to chart a possible pathway. Empirically, I identify a practical shift in development since the early-2000s. On one side are Washington Consensus practices that assume a “non-reflexive” relationship between people and institutions, meaning that people, in general, do not or should not reflect on their values and political position. On the other side are practices that assume a “reflexive” relationship between people and institutions, meaning that people reflect on their values and political position, and contest and shape the institutions that govern them. Analytically, I identify the emergence of an infrastructure that has enabled development actors to put this shift into practice. Proceeding inductively, I argue that it is composed of three specific technologies – massive data-gathering of people's political and social values; adaptive institutional design processes; and large multistakeholder platforms. Theoretically, I explore the political structures embedded in these technologies and sketch some of their consequences, particularly in light of the centrality of institutional reform to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals over the next decade.
- law reform