Passwords to power: a public rationale for expert influence on central government policy-making: British scientists and economists. c.1900-c.1925

Hull, Andrew J. (1994) Passwords to power: a public rationale for expert influence on central government policy-making: British scientists and economists. c.1900-c.1925. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The aim of the study is to explore and compare the rhetoric produced for public consumption by British scientists and economists in the period from c. 1900 to c. 1925, which was aimed at securing executive influence over government policy-making for these expert groups. I argue that members of each group followed characteristic strategies and produced distinctive rhetorics, but that they shared a common aim: the formalisation of influence over policy. I am testing the hypothesis, first put forward by Frank Turner in relation to natural scientists that a new type of public scientific rhetoric emerged from circa 1870 and was voiced by a sizeable minority of scientists in the Edwardian period.
The key feature of this new rhetoric (which Turner dubs 'Public Science') was a call for scientists to be involved in government policy-making, on the basis of the transferability of scientific method to the areas covered by policy problems. I apply this model to scientists and to economists beyond the period initially considered by Turner. I argue that important sections of the economic and scientific communities actively pursued executive influence over policy in this period. I trace the course of the public arguments noting how they change over time in response to perceptions of the attitude of the State towards outside expertise and the changing context of national concerns. I examine the rhetoric in action in a case study of the Food (War) Committee of the Royal Society, which contained both scientists and economists. I argue that such a study of rhetoric is of great importance as a prerequisite for a correct understanding of the relations between experts and government in this period. Rhetoric must be recognised for what it is, a changing partisan account of the importance of science and scientific method.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Economics
Supervisor's Name: Rollings, Neil and Trainor, Rick
Date of Award: 1994
Depositing User: Elaine Ballantyne
Unique ID: glathesis:1994-1287
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2009
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2012 13:37

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