Theories of Local Government

  • W. J. M. Mackenzie


I ought at the outset to brush aside one or two misconceptions that might arise from the title of this lecture. There is no theory of local government. There is no normative general theory from which we can deduce what local government ought to be; there is no positive general theory from which we can derive testable hypotheses about what it is. In fact, the subject is a very base one, if we measure it by academic standards; it has seldom been treated with elegance and precision, and if you scan the textbooks of political thought you will find no accounts, or very shoddy accounts, of theories about local government. An odd thing, because there has certainly been in Britain in the last 150 years endless discussion about it; not theory perhaps, but certainly talk, certainly ideas.


Local Government Royal Commission Municipal Corporation Metropolitan Police English Constitution 
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  1. 21.
    Bagehot’s English Constitution (1867) reinforced Mill, in a lighter vein, e.g. pp.306 and 362.Google Scholar

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© W. J. M. Mackenzie 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • W. J. M. Mackenzie
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GlasgowUK

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