Privatisation denotes the transfer to a commercial organisation of the right and duty to provide services or goods previously provided by a public sector organisation. In Britain, we recently experienced a series of Conservative administrations (1979-1996) committed to the ideology of private enterprise and to shrinking the public sector. Whichever nationally owned enterprises could conveniently be privatised, were; some parts of the civil service unsuitable for privatisation were transformed into quasi-autonomous ‘executive agencies’; other parts of the public sector were instructed to contract out some of their functions and to emulate the customer-orientation of business by adopting ‘Citizens’ Charters’. The National Health Service [NHS] was required to construct an ‘internal market’ dividing its functions between those of purchasers and providers [see Descombes in this volume].