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Privileging privatisation: accounting practices and state transformation in the UK

Posted on 7 July 2021

New paper by Liam Clegg

Liam Clegg

New paper from Liam Clegg and Chris Rogers from Warwick PAIS on 'Privileging privatization: National debt accounting practices and UK state transformation' in the journal  British Politics


How do accounting practices interact with processes of state transformation? Focusing on the privatisation of social housing in the UK, we clarify an important mechanism through which accounting practices served to constitute material incentives in favour of privatisation. Our archival research demonstrates that the UK government’s atypical practice of including public corporations’ liabilities in its own debt calculations shaped discussions and decisions over the transfer of public housing stock to non-state Housing Associations in the 1980s. By unpacking the constitutive relationship between accounting practices and material incentives, we advance and bring together scholarship on state transformation and the politics of accounting.