This paper uses the case of prison privatization in England and Wales to scrutinize what it means to “economize the social” through numbers. It argues that we ought to be careful not to equate quantification with economization. To uncover the multiple effects of economization and quantification brought about by new public management reforms and prison privatization, one needs to set presumed dichotomies between the public and the private aside and turn instead to the multiplicity of economizing practices (curtailing, marketizing, financializing) and their implication in different forms of quantification. Ironically, numbers and state contracts governing privately managed prisons also shielded these establishments from economization (e.g. budgetary savings requests); and it is the public prisons that have been exposed the most to measures of government austerity.
|Title of host publication||The New Politics of Numbers|
|Editors||Robert Salais, Andrea Mennicken|
|Number of pages||30|
|Publication status||Published - 12 Oct 2021|