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Extending Public Accountability Through Privatization: From Public Law to Publicization

Freeman, Jody
June 4, 2015

Source: (2006) In Michael W. Dowdle, Ed., Public Accountability, Designs, Dilemmas and Experiences. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 83-111.

“In this chapter, I suggest a counterintuitive way to view American privatization trends. Instead of seeing privatization as a means of weakening the state and reducing public accountability, I imagine it as a mechanism for expanding public accountability’s reach into realms traditionally thought private. In other words, privatization can be a means of “publicization,” a process through which private actors increasingly commit themselves to traditionally public goals as the price of access to lucrative opportunities to deliver goods and services, and to perform functions that might otherwise be provided directly by the state. Rather than compromising democratic norms of accountability, due process, equality, and rationality — as some critics of privatization fear it will — privatization might extend these norms to private actors through the judicious use of legislative, executive, judicial, and even social oversight.” (excerpt)


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