Prime Ministers, Ministers and Civil Servants in Britain

Prime Ministers, Ministers and Civil Servants in Britain Prime Ministers, Ministers and Civil Servants in Britain D ENNIS K AVANAGH AND D AVID R ICHARDS In the last 30 years, the British political system has encountered a variety of challenges to both its political power and authority. This has led commentators to now speak of a system of governance rather than government. In this paper, we will assess the impact that these challenges have had on what still remains the two key political elites — ministers and civil servants. We will examine their response to the challenges laid down by governance, which include: greater modernisation and professionalisation; broader social representation; and the need to co-opt a new group into the existing political elite. We argue that both ministers and civil servants have been adept at publicly pursuing a strategy of greater openness, inclusivity and  exibility, while privately being able to remain a homogenous elite with a tight hold on political power. For us, the British political elites have been successful at ensuring that there is plurality without pluralism in the political system. The Elitist British Political Tradition Historically, political leadership in Britain has been exercised by men of high birth and breeding. The effects of http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Comparative Sociology Brill

Prime Ministers, Ministers and Civil Servants in Britain

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 2002 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1569-1322
eISSN
1569-1330
D.O.I.
10.1163/156913303100418744
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Prime Ministers, Ministers and Civil Servants in Britain D ENNIS K AVANAGH AND D AVID R ICHARDS In the last 30 years, the British political system has encountered a variety of challenges to both its political power and authority. This has led commentators to now speak of a system of governance rather than government. In this paper, we will assess the impact that these challenges have had on what still remains the two key political elites — ministers and civil servants. We will examine their response to the challenges laid down by governance, which include: greater modernisation and professionalisation; broader social representation; and the need to co-opt a new group into the existing political elite. We argue that both ministers and civil servants have been adept at publicly pursuing a strategy of greater openness, inclusivity and  exibility, while privately being able to remain a homogenous elite with a tight hold on political power. For us, the British political elites have been successful at ensuring that there is plurality without pluralism in the political system. The Elitist British Political Tradition Historically, political leadership in Britain has been exercised by men of high birth and breeding. The effects of

Journal

Comparative SociologyBrill

Published: Jan 1, 2003

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