The Nature and Functions of the State

Michael Taggart

in The Oxford Handbook of Legal Studies

Published in print June 2005 | ISBN: 9780199248179
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:
The Nature and Functions of the State


For much of last century it was taken for granted in many countries that it was the duty of the State to care for its citizens ‘from cradle to grave’: to provide education, pensions, medical services, and public utilities, and to hold out a safety net for the less fortunate so that they had food, shelter, and the other necessaries of life. Since the late 1970s, however, these functions of the State have been put in question by the worldwide march towards privatization. The privatization movement was said to be a response to budget deficits and mounting public debt, perceived inefficiencies in government operations, and a loss of faith in the ability of governments in the developed world to meet the expectations of their citizenry of an ever-increasing standard of living. This article discusses the influence of economic theory on the privatization movement; the impact of changes in the economy (namely, the privatization movement) on law, particularly legal scholarship; the meaning of privatization; the public/private law divide; and privatization in the UK; corporatization and public sector reforms; deregulation; and contracting out.

Keywords: privatization; economic theory; legal scholarship; public law; private law; corporatization; public sector reforms; deregulation; contracting out

Article.  8010 words. 

Subjects: Law ; Legal System and Practice

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