Public Reason: Vol. 3, No. 2, December 2011
The Marketization of Security Services
Rutger Claassen

This paper discusses the normative credentials of the “commodification of security,” i.e. subjecting protection against (criminal) threats to the market. It distinguishes between a “pure security market,” in the absence of public protection by the police, and an “additional security market,” co-existing with public provision. It argues that a pure security market is not so much unstable (as Nozick’s invisible hand argument for the minimal state implied) but undesirable, because of persisting levels of unjustifiable violence. This does not however, mean that an additional security market is equally problematic. I discuss two main arguments in favor of state provision and how both lead to the same conclusion, that additional security efforts by commercial providers should be considered permissible. This shifts the question to the conditions which make the resulting mix of market and state legitimate. I will close by discussing three of these conditions: adequate regulation, cooperation between market and state providers, and a balance between both so that commercial security efforts do not undermine the minimum level provided by the state.

Key words: market, commodification, state provision, security, policing.


Claassen, Rutger. 2011. The Marketization of Security Services. Public Reason 3 (2): 124-145.