Sociology Index


Privatisation is the process of moving economic resources from the public sector to the private sector. Publicly owned transportation resources, natural resources, hospitals, etc., may be sold to private individuals or to privately owned corporations. Recent resurgence of interest in classical liberalism, and also neo-liberalism has led to pressure to privatize government owned resources and services.

Privatization is the process of transferring ownership of a business, public service or property from the public sector to the private sector or to private non-profit organizations. Privatization can also mean government out-sourcing of services to private firms, functions like revenue collection and prison management.

The term 'Privatisation' has also been applied to the growth in modern societies of a family life separated from the outer community. In traditional societies there is little separation of private and public spheres, but privatization appears to take place with urbanization and industrialization.

Methods of privatization:

Share issue privatization. That is, privatization through sale of shares on the stock market.

Asset sale privatization. That is, privatization through sale of entire organization (or part of it) to a strategic investor, usually by auction or by using the Treuhand model

Voucher privatization. That is, privatization by distributing shares of ownership to all citizens, usually for free or at a very low price.

Privatization from below. That is, privatization through Start-up of new private businesses in formerly socialist countries.

Books on Privatisation

Joseph Bensman and Robert Lillefield: Between Public and Private. NY: The Free Press, 1979

Arthur Brittan: The Privatised World. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1977

Arthur Brittan: Privatisation and Fragmentation, chapter 3 in his book The Privatised World. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1977

Claude S. Fischer: The Public and Private Worlds of City Life, American Sociological Review, vol 46, June 1981, pp 306-316

Bev James: Feminism -Making the Private World Public, in Ian Shirley (ed), Development Tracks. Palmerston North: Dunmore Press, 1982

David Popenoe: The Metropolitan Community and the Privatisation of Life, in his book Private Pleasure, Public Plight -American Metropolitan Community Life in Comparative Perspective. New York: Transaction Books, 1985

Ian Procter: The Privatisation of Working-Class Life -A Dissenting View, British Journal of Sociology, vol 41, no. 2, June 1990, pp 157-180.