Everyday Life in British Government

Paperback | May 23, 2015

byR. A. W. Rhodes

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As citizens, why do we care about the everyday life of ministers and civil servants? We care because the decisions of the great and the good affect all our lives, for good or ill. For all their personal, political, and policy failings and foibles, they make a difference. So, we want to knowwhat ministers and bureaucrats do, why, and how. We are interested in their beliefs and practices. In his fascinating piece of political anthropology, Rod Rhodes uncovers exactly how the British political elite thinks and acts. Drawing on unprecedented access to ministers and senior civil servants in three government departments, he answers a simple question: "what do they do?" On the basis ofextensive fieldwork, supplemented by revealing interviews, he tries to capture the essence of their everyday life. He describes the ministers' and permanent secretaries' world through their own eyes, and explores how their beliefs and practices serve to create meaning in politics, policy making, andpublic-service delivery. He goes on to analyze how such beliefs and practices are embedded in traditions; in webs of protocols, rituals, and languages. The story he has to tell is dramatized through in-depth accounts of specific events to show ministers and civil servants "in action". He challenges the conventional constitutional, institutional, and managerial views of British governance. Instead, he describes a storytellingpolitical-administrative elite, with beliefs and practices rooted in the Westminster model, which uses protocols and rituals to domesticate rude surprises and cope with recurrent dilemmas.

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As citizens, why do we care about the everyday life of ministers and civil servants? We care because the decisions of the great and the good affect all our lives, for good or ill. For all their personal, political, and policy failings and foibles, they make a difference. So, we want to knowwhat ministers and bureaucrats do, why, and ho...

R. A. W. Rhodes is Professor of Government (Research) at the University of Southampton (UK); Adjunct Professor of Government and Public Policy at Griffith University (Brisbane, Australia); and Emeritus Professor of Politics at the University of Newcastle (UK).

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:May 23, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198735790

ISBN - 13:9780198735793

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Table of Contents

List of Table and FiguresGlossaryPreface and Acknowledgements1. Observing Government ElitesPart I: The Setting2. The Governmental Setting3. The Departmental SettingPart II: The Actors4. The Minister5. The Permanent SecretaryPart III: Scenes6. The Departmental Court7. Protocols, Rituals and Languages8. Networks and Governance9. The Resignation10. Willed Ordinariness, Being There, and MythsBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

"One of the "must have" books on politics for 2011... a fascinating and surprisingly readable and entertaining book. Politicians and bureaucrats, believe it or not, are just like us - well maybe not quite. They swear, make mistakes, and bitch and gossip about each other and their enemies(usually the Treasury)... a fascinating insight into the inner workings of the Whitehall." --Dr Steve Coulter, LSE blog