Law and Legal Studies

Professor Parker is highly influential in interdisciplinary law and society fields of regulatory studies, lawyers’ ethics and more recently food systems governance. She has successfully completed 5 ARC-funded Discovery Projects and is one of the CIs on the Centre of Excellence for Automated Decision Making + Society (COE ADM+S), where she has particular responsibility for the sustainable governance aspects of the programme.

Her earlier qualitative and quantitative empirical work made her a leader in understanding how and why businesses comply or fail to comply with the law, and the regulation of the legal profession. Her first two books (Just Lawyers, The Open Corporation) were based on in-depth interviews (across a range of industries and issues—competition, consumer protection, anti-discrimination, environment, health and safety) with scores of regulators, lawyers and business people, in large and multinational companies throughout the world. In her subsequent projects on the impact of ACCC enforcement and on cartel criminalisation she developed these empirical and methodological approaches further to build leading understandings of how regulatory enforcement action influences (or fails to influence) business compliance and responsibility in competition and consumer protection regulation, equal employment opportunity, environment and health and safety obligations. Professor Parker’s research advanced knowledge by reconsidering standard theories of business compliance and enforcement, especially rational choice (deterrence) theories in competition policy, and further adjusting and elaborating responsive regulation theories. They remain highly influential today in these fields. She also developed the influential concept of ‘meta-regulation’, the regulation of self-regulation through the interaction of government regulation, stakeholder contestation and accountability, and ethical self-regulation (by business and lawyers).

Professor Parker’s recent research applies this agenda to the politics, ethics and regulation of food systems governance. She has focused particularly on the role of labelling as a regulatory governance strategy for engagement of stakeholders with healthy sustainable food production and consumption. She has influentially created a conceptual understanding of the “food label as a governance space” and the value of “backwards mapping” the networks of regulatory actors that construct the claims seen on food labels for consumer choice. She has critically examined how consumer choice and social movement pressure can influence labelling for consumer choice and marketing and production practices.

In her current work, Professor Parker is developing (with Professor Fiona Haines) the concept of ecological regulation. This concept refers to both the analysis of the ecology of state and non-state regulation in different substantive areas that applies to business, and the normative imperative for regulation to recognise that economic activity must be embedded within both social and ecological boundaries in order to be sustainable. She is pursuing this work as part of the sustainable governance agenda of the Centre for Excellence for Automated Decision and Society, and also in relation to studies of the future of the food system, particularly the future of animal agriculture, novel proteins and the eating of meat. 

Social Sciences and Economics Advisory Group, Food Standards Australia New Zealand

Law and Society Association

Australian Animal Law Teachers and Researchers Association

International Association of Legal Ethics

1. Christine Parker and Hope Johnson, “From Food Chains to Food Webs: Regulating Capitalist Production and Consumption in the Food System”, Annual Review of Law and Social Sciences, 2019, 15, 205-225. Available at:

2. Christine Parker, Hope Johnson and Janine Curll, “Consumer power to change the food system? A critical reading of food labels as governance spaces”. Journal of Food Law & Policy, 2019, Vol. 15(1), 1-48. Available at:

3. Fiona Haines and Christine Parker, “An ecological approach to regulatory studies?” Journal of Law and Society, 2018, 45(1), 136-155. Available at

4. Christine Parker, Rachel Carey, Josephine De Costa and Gyorgy Scrinis, “The hidden hand of the market: who regulates animal welfare under a labelling for consumer choice approach?” Regulation and Governance, 2017, 11, 368-387. doi: 10.1111/rego.12147 Available at:

5. Christine Parker and Vibeke Lehmann Nielsen, “Chapter 13: Compliance: 14 questions”. In Peter Drahos (ed) Regulatory Theory: Foundations and Applications (ANU Press, Canberra, 2017) at 217-232. Available at: