Privatization, Structural Dependence, and the Problem of Legitimacy
How should a normative evaluation of the merits and demerits of privatization proceed? In response to Joseph Heath’s approach to this question, I first argue that the difference between core and economic functions is not as relevant to establish the limits of privatization, as Heath suggests. I claim, second, that Heath problematically neglects the structural and aggregative effects of privatization. An instance of privatization that, if analyzed in isolation, is anodyne may no longer be so when seen as a further contribution to an already expansive process of privatization. Finally, I argue that Heath fails to consider the risks that pervasive privatization poses in terms of democratic legitimacy, by giving rise to a situation where, on the one hand, citizens are dominated by a privatized state and, on the other hand, the state itself is dominated by private actors.
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