chapter  4
11 Pages

The changing role of public institutions

In the past decade, developed and developing societies throughout the world have witnessed a struggle between public (state) and private (commercial) attempts to provide the framework for economic, social and cultural development. As the state bureaucracies (and gerontocracies) of communism have imploded, so the arguments for allowing the market to play the leading role in development have gained the edge in political thinking in many parts of the world. Britain, taking its lead from the Chicago school of Friedmanite monetarism, in turn has carried the flag for allowing the market to set the pace of future economic and political change. Privatization of state assets has been pioneered in Britain and emulated widely in other countries. Even so, public expenditure as a percentage of the Gross National Product (GNP) continues to rise in Britain, and notions of the "lean state", the "enabling state" or of the "minimal state", although widely espoused, seem no nearer to fruition than they were when such ideas first gained ascendancy.