In Defence of Public Ownership: A Reply to Frye

Political Theory 48 (5):581-587 (2020)
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Harrison Frye claims that socialist republicanism may be unable to reduce domination due to efficiency costs and accountability deficits imposed by public ownership. I argue that the empirical and theoretical grounds for expecting such a decline in economic efficiency are weak. Moreover, the egalitarian distributive effects of public ownership are likely to be more important for insulating people from domination. So too, workers, consumers, and citizens are not well-protected from domination by the accountability of managers to profit-seeking shareholders. I conclude that the investor-owned firm will do far more to exacerbate dominating power than to constrain it.

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Tom O'Shea
University of Edinburgh


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