The Politics of Privatisation in Western Europe

The Politics of Privatisation in Western Europe

The Politics of Privatisation in Western Europe

The Politics of Privatisation in Western Europe

Excerpt

West European Politics celebrated its tenth anniversary by holding a conference. The subject was privatisation in Western Europe-a topical and politically important area to investigate. For political theorists, the interest of privatisation lies in the fact that it is entangled in much wider issues: public choice theory; the role and nature of the State; negative and positive concepts of freedom; the capacity of the market to ensure social justice; the appropriate mechanisms ('community', 'market', state politics, bureaucratic mediation or 'association') for deciding collective social choice; and the definition of property rights. For students of political institutions and public policy, privatisation raises important questions about the impact of ideology in shaping policy, about agenda-setting, about 'policy fashion' and 'policy diffusion', about the role of constitutional and political institutional arrangements and conventions in moulding policy ambitions and outputs, about the possible rival 'rationalities' of public and private industrial production, about the relationship between State and industry, and about the nature of the interaction between public and private industrial actors. Privatisation also raises more complex questions about political interest and the political power ramifications of industrial policy-making.

Given the general profile of the journal it was decided to concentrate on the institutional and public policy aspects of privatisation, and this is evident in the studies which follow.

The success of the conference and, we hope, of the following collection, owes much to many: to Professor Monica Charlot, Directeur of the Maison Française who suggested the conference and then supported it; to Frank Cass who also gave his encouragement and financial assistance; to the Nuffield Foundation which provided part of the finance for the conference; to the Warden and Fellows of Nuffield College which hosted and also partly financed the conference; to Trude Hickey whose secretarial help was as generous as it was effective. Our greatest thanks must go, of course, to those who took part in the conference, and especially to those who produced the papers which appear in this volume.

JOHN VICKERS
VINCENT WRIGHT
Nuffield College, Oxford
March 1988

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