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This paper asks whether historically-inclined, socio-legal policy research can be accommodated within ELS. We propose that it can, if ELS is conceived broadly. Our example is the historically-evolving relationship between democracy and financial market regulation (henceforth finreg) in the UK. Our provisional findings: from 1918 onwards there was a Grand Bargain, in which finreg side-stepped democracy, retaining the self-governance historically characteristic of trade guilds. This evolved through masquerade, as self-regulation expanded behind an institutional façade of public regulation; and aestheticism, as the rapidly internationalising epistemic community produced socially disembedded theory and cosmopolitan standards. Today there is plasticity in finreg and its relationship with democracy, due to a complex mixing of heroic crisis management, international mobilisation, national subsidiarisation and populist pressures. Moving to ‘so what’, we hypothesise some policy benefits of re-uniting finreg and democracy. Finally we return to questions of disciplinarity.