On the face of it, the notion of ‘nationalisation’ would seem to be quite straightforward: it must mean simply the takeover of a private firm (company or corporation) by the state. Together with this apparently simple notion there are often associated some equally crude ideological conceptions: that such state takeovers are acts of ‘socialism’ and anticapitalist in nature; that nationalised business or nationalised industries are, or by state control can be made to be, more socially responsible or accountable than private firms; or that ‘national’ control through the state of the economy is more beneficial than foreign ownership. Such ideas have only to be stated for it to be apparent that the question of nationalisation is much more complex than this, and that many of the views held about it, even only subconsciously, contain only a small grain of truth. In order to understand the processes involved in nationalisation, it is necessary first to look behind the institutional or legal forms involved. The aim of this paper is to try to establish some sort of theoretical perspective, based on a Marxist approach, to help us understand what is behind the changing relations of the state and private business all round the world.


Social Relation World Economy Private Firm Individual Firm Capitalist Production 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sol Picciotto

There are no affiliations available

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