New Perspectives on the Public-Private Divide
200 pages, 6 x 9
Release Date:01 Jan 2004
Release Date:15 May 2003
Release Date:01 Oct 2007

New Perspectives on the Public-Private Divide

By Law Commission of Canada
UBC Press

The separation between public and private spheres has structured much of our thinking about human organizations. Scholars from nearly all disciplines use the notion of a public-private divide as a means to order knowledge and better understand the mechanisms that govern and shape human behaviour and institutions. In legal and socio-legal analysis, the distinction informs the differences between state and non-state actors and between public good and private property.

This rich collection of essays explores how the public-private divide influences, challenges, and interacts with law and law reform. Through various case studies, the contributors reflect on this complex dichotomy's role in structuring the socio-legal environment for the personal, social, economic, and governance relationships of citizens. They demonstrate that while the split between the public and the private is a useful way to understand the world, it is always only an ideological construct, and as such open to challenge.

Of primary interest to legal thinkers and practitioners, this volume will also hold sway with sociologists, historians, and political scientists with an interest in the nature of the public-private distinction, and its role in law and society.

The Law Commission of Canada is an independent federal law reform agency that advises Parliament on how to improve and modernize Canada’s laws.

Introduction / Nathalie Des Rosiers

1 There’s Only One Worker: Toward the Legal Integration of Paid Employment and Unpaid Caregiving / Lisa Philipps

2 Private Needs and Public Space: Politics Poverty and Anti-Panhandling Bylaws in Canadian Cities / Damian Collins and Nicholas Blomley

3 Private Life: Biotechnology and the Public-Private Divide / Nathan Brett

4 Invasions of Publicity: Digital Networks and the Privatization of the Public Sphere / Darin Barney

5 Green Revolution or Greenwash? Voluntary Environmental Standards, Public Law, and Private Authority in Canada / Stepan Wood

6 The Emergence of Identity-Based Associations in Collective Bargaining Relations / Christian Brunelle



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