Is nothing sacred? Privatization and the Person

John O'Carroll, Chris Fleming

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    This essay develops a hypothesis concerning both privatization itself and its relation to modernity.Privatization-in-general (as opposed to the 1980s manifestations we still call privatization) had its genesis in the sixteenth century Reformation and counter-Reformation. From this theological space,it unfolded in a distinctively moral way through a variety of theatres, and as it did so, it found in each of these a new articulation. Arising in what was then becoming 'the West,' it had a determined character, in that in an anthropological sense it was closely linked to the Judaeo-Christian notion of the sacredness of the person. As a result, as privatization carved ' and carves ' its ongoing paths through these theatres ' philosophical, economic, legal, educational, aesthetic, political ' it threaten sexisting orders, even as it holds out the promise of ever-new versions of the private (and its opposites, the public, the social, and so on). The authors contend that this view of privatization proffers a new way of grasping and defining modernity itself (although it is beyond the purview of the essay to do more than indicate the shape of such definition). The account offered limits itself to showing the moral nature and genesis of privatization, and explores examples of its emergence in selected fields. It does so in a spirit of hypothesis and illustration, rather than of demonstration or exhaustiveness.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)100-120
    Number of pages21
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


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