Crime and Market Society: Lessons from the United States

  • Elliott Currie


Enormous changes are taking place in Europe — East and West — and, of course, not only in Europe but around the world. How we deal with those changes in the 1990s — the decisions we make about social and economic policy — will shape our global future far into the twenty-first century. So it is especially critical that we engage now in a full and global debate about the choices before us. At the heart of the debate — here in England, in Europe both East and West, in Latin America — is the issue of the role of ‘market forces’ — the balance of public and private, of the pursuit of common ends versus individual gain as organising principles of social life. In the United States, I am afraid, at least among our more conservative pundits and the mass media, the debate is generally regarded as largely settled, the choices already made. The enormous changes rocking Europe today are seen as one expression of the worldwide vindication of conservative social policies and economic values: of the triumph of ‘free markets’. From this perspective, the only people who have reservations about the presumed victory of those policies and those values — as a former US secretary of the treasury, William Simon, said recendy — are a ‘handful of soreheads who don’t know how to compete’. Well, that’s one American view: I would like to offer another, and considerably less celebratory one. For lost in the celebration, in the United States at any rate, is any sustained concern about the social consequences of the much-heralded ‘unleashing’ of market forces.


Violent Crime Market Force Income Support Economic Deprivation Market Society 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elliott Currie

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