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A Veblenian-inspired critique of the "quasi-markets" concept

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"Quasi-markets" is the term predominantly employed as a means of conceptualising and describing the market-oriented reforms primarily, but not exclusively, to the welfare state in the UK. This paper argues that the term, as popularly defined, cannot sustain a suitable analytical frame in the examination of an evolutionary process. In so doing, the paper draws heavily on Thorstein Veblen's distinction between evolutionary and teleological approaches. The quasi-markets concept, grounded in Oliver Williamson's transaction cost economics, is predicated on the existence of "conventional markets", defined as perfect competition. It is claimed that this renders the term devoid of analytical usefulness. Moreover, by presenting a narrow conception of exchange the quasi-market terminology tacitly conveys an insipid pro-market stance.
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Keywords: Markets; Social Services; Transaction Costs

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 15, 2001

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