Systemic Effects of Privatization on Human Service Agencies

Authored by: Maren B. Trochmann

Routledge Handbook of Social, Economic, and Criminal Justice

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138545649
eBook ISBN: 9781351002707
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines three major components related to the privatization of human services: the history of human service delivery, the distinctions between public and private organizations, and the pros and cons of privatization of social services. The first section outlines the evolution of human services in the United States, including the voluntary settlement house movement in the 1890s, the nascent government involvement beginning in the 1930s with President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and evolving through President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society of the 1970s, and the trends of New Public Management, Reinventing Government, contracting out and privatization from the 1980s under President Ronald Reagan and onward. These movements are examined in relation to social justice. The second section outlines typologies for categorizing and organizing between public versus private organizations. The chapter concludes in the third section with an examination of the arguments for and against privatization. Finally, the chapter offers a brief overview of current trends and future directions of human service delivery.

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