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Marketisation and Privatisation in Criminal Justice$
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Kevin Albertson, Mary Corcoran, and Jake Phillips

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781447345701

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447345701.001.0001

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Market society utopianism in penal politics

Market society utopianism in penal politics

(p.15) 1 Market society utopianism in penal politics
Marketisation and Privatisation in Criminal Justice

Mary Corcoran

Policy Press

This chapter discusses the utopian intellectual origins of some strands of contemporary free market ideas and practices from their post-war revival via thinkers such as Friedrich Hayek, whose ideas went on to influence the New Right following economic and political crises of the 1970s. The discussion then draws on Karl Polanyi’s (1945) Origins of our Time: The Great Transformation, where he first gave theoretical expression to the concept of a ‘market society’. Published just after the Second World War and in the context of emerging welfare states, these thinkers marked out the ideological divides that have dominated political-economic thought since. The chapter considers the pre-eminence of free market ideology with regards to penal politics and thinking. It concludes by noting that predictions of the withering away of outsourcing and competitive regimes in the aftermath of the financial crisis which began in 2007-8 appear to be a ‘false dawn’. However, a change in direction may be imminent in the wake of controversial and costly terminations of penal service contracts.

Keywords:   Market Society, Penal Politics, Political Economy, Financial Crisis, Free Market Ideology, Karl Polyani, Friedrich Hayek

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