Regulatory Decision Making: Who Do the Public Trust? Dr Jo Hawkins

Dr Jo Hawkins will be speaking about making regulatory decisions and exploring who the public trust.


Trust in actors dealing with risk has come to be recognised as an important factor in shaping the overall public perception of / acceptance of risk and decisions involving risk. This is because public concerns about developments are not confined to technical risks e.g. pollution, but extend further to encompass concerns over the way in which actors making decisions about risk will behave and their trustworthiness. This paper uses original data to develop an empirically grounded understanding of trust in the context of shale gas developments. It provides a timely contribution to the literature on trust by contradicting the claim that the public ‘have had enough of experts’. This paper explores how and why the public decide whether to trust experts revealing that expert status is not predicated solely on qualifications/scientific experience. Instead such trust is inherently connected to broader social factors such as the perceived competence, independence, predictability of behaviour, and benevolence of experts. Exploration of these broader factors provides a new insight into why certain ‘expert’ bodies are not currently trusted by the public and whether the determinants of trust presented here can be used to rebuild public trust in this controversial context.


Joanne Hawkins joined the University of Leeds School of Law as a Lecturer in Business Law in January 2016. Prior to this she was a PhD researcher at the University of Bristol. To date, her research has been funded by both the AHRC and Socio-Legal Studies Association. Joanne’s research focuses on regulatory legitimacy in the context of shale gas exploration and the extraction technique of fracking, with a focus on empirical work. Her broad interests lie in the areas of environmental law, regulation and regulatory decision making, democratic rights/public participation and trust.


All welcome. This is a free event, though registration is required via Eventbrite.