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Neo-feudalism (literally new feudalism – the terms are used interchangeably in the literature[1]) refers to a theorized contemporary rebirth of policies of governance, economy and public life[2] reminiscent of those present in many feudal societies, such as unequal rights and legal protections for common people and for nobility. It is related to some of the ideas of neo-medievalism.

Privatized governance[edit]

According to Les Johnston, Clifford Shearing's theoretical approach of neofeudalism has been influential.[3] Shearing "use[s] this term in a limited sense to draw attention to the emergence of domains of mass private property that are ‘gated’ in a variety of ways".[1][4] [5]

Neofeudalism entails an order defined by commercial interests and administered in large areas, according to Bruce Baker, who argues that this does not fully describe the extent of cooperation between state and non-state policing.[6] The significance of the comparison to feudalism, for Randy Lippert and Daniel O'Connor, is that corporations have power similar to states' governance powers.[7]

The widening of the wealth gap, as poor and marginalized people are excluded from the state's provision of security, can result in neofeudalism, argues Marina Caparini, who says this has already happened in South Africa.[8] Neofeudalism is made possible by the commodification of policing, and signifies the end of shared citizenship, says Ian Loader.[9] A primary characteristic of neofeudalism is that individuals' public lives are increasingly governed by business corporations, as Martha K. Huggins finds.[2]

John Braithwaite notes that neofeudalism brings a different approach to governance, since business corporations in particular have this specialized need for loss reduction.[10]


  1. ^ a b Shearing, Clifford (2001). "Punishment and the Changing Face of the Governance". Punishment & Society 3 (2): 203–220. doi:10.1177/1462474501003002001. 
  2. ^ a b Huggins, Martha K. (2000). "Urban Violence and Police Privatization in Brazil: Blended Invisibility". Social Justice 27 (2). ISSN 1043-1578. 
  3. ^ Johnston, Les (1999). "Private Policing in Context". European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research 7 (2): 175–196. doi:10.1023/A:1008753326991. 
  4. ^ Shearing, Clifford D. (1983). "Private Security: Implications for Social Control". Social Problems 30 (5): 493–506. ISSN 0037-7791. 
  5. ^ Zedner, Lucia (2006). "Policing Before and After the Police: The Historical Antecedents of Contemporary Crime Control". The British Journal of Criminology 46 (1): 78–96. doi:10.1093/bjc/azi043. 
  6. ^ Baker, Bruce (2004). "Protection from crime: what is on offer for Africans?". Journal of Contemporary African Studies 22 (2): 165–188. doi:10.1080/cjca0258900042000230005. 
  7. ^ Lippert, Randy; O'Connor, Daniel (2006). "Security Intelligence Networks and the Transformation of Contract Private Security". Policing & Society 16 (1): 50–66. doi:10.1080/10439460500399445. 
  8. ^ Caparini, Marina (2006). "Applying a Security Governance Perspective to the Privatisation of Security". In Bryden, Alan; Caparini, Marina. Private Actors and Security Governance. LIT Verlag. pp. 263–282. ISBN 3-8258-9840-7. 
  9. ^ Loader, Ian (1999). "Consumer Culture and the Commodification of Policing and Security". Sociology 33 (2): 373–392. doi:10.1177/S003803859900022X. 
  10. ^ Braithwaite, John (2000). "The New Regulatory State and the Transformation of Criminology". The British Journal of Criminology 40 (2): 222–238. doi:10.1093/bjc/40.2.222.