Market-Driven Politics

Market-Driven Politics

by Colin Leys


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With the globalisation of the capitalist economy the economic role of national governments is now largely confined to controlling inflation and facilitating home-grown market performance. This represents a fundamental shift in the relationship between politics and economics; it has been particularly marked in Britain, but is relevant to many other contexts.

Market-Driven Politics is a multi-level study, moving between an analysis of global economic forces through national politics to the changes occurring week by week in two fields of public life that are both fundamentally important and familiar to everyone…television broadcasting and health care. Public services like these play an important role, because they both affect the legitimacy of the government and are targets for global capital. This book provides an original analysis of the key processes of commodification of public services, the conversion of public-service workforces into employees motivated to generate profit, and the role of the state in absorbing risk. Understanding the dynamics of each of these trends becomes critical not just for the analysis of market-driven politics but also for the longer-term defence of democracy and the collective values on which it depends.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781859844977
Publisher: Verso Books
Publication date: 07/17/2003
Pages: 290
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Colin Leys is Emeritus Professor of Political Studies at Queen’s University, Canada. His previous books include Politics in Britain, The Rise and Fall of Development Theory and, with Leo Panitch, The End of Parliamentary Socialism.

Table of Contents

2.The global economy and national politics8
The formation of a global economy8
The new global economy13
Global market forces and national policy-making21
The options for national governments26
Explaining national responses29
The case of Britain32
The long-run impact of the global economy on national politics35
3.British politics in a global economy38
British governments and economic globalisation, 1975-200040
Market forces, social structure and ideology45
Interlude: the 'Big Bang' and its fallout58
Party politics63
Institutional and constitutional change69
The social costs of market-driven politics74
Problems of 'third way' politics76
4.Markets, commodities and commodification81
Real markets and politics81
The private lives of commodities87
Services as commodities90
The specificity of commodities: television95
The specificity of commodities: health care100
5.Public service television108
Public service broadcasting in Britain110
The transition to market-driven broadcasting112
The television market, 1999-2000122
How television became a field of capital accumulation136
Commodification and public service television149
6.The National Health Service165
The National Health Service, 1948-79166
The transition to commodified health services167
The NHS quasi-market and other health-care markets, 1999-2000177
The commodification of health care189
The NHS Plan and the Concordat with the private sector203
Global market forces and the NHS207
7.Market-driven politics versus the public interest211
The argument recapitulated211
Is the UK an 'outlier'?216
Does it matter that politics are market-driven?217
Why has there been so little resistance?219
Do public services matter?220
On what basis can public services flourish?222
Is this relevant?224

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