The Demise of the Public Service Ethos

  • Lawrence Pratchett
  • Melvin Wingfield
Part of the Government Beyond the Centre book series (GBC)


Public servants are an important, though often overlooked, element of modern democracies. The large bureaucracies which are a feature of all contemporary governments have a major role to play in sustaining democratic structures and practices, especially by providing for a mix of technical expertise and impartial advice within a pluralist framework of representative democracy. Within local government the 2.2 million full and part-time employees1 must be juxtaposed against the 20 000 elected members who are their political masters.2 Often better paid, better qualified, better informed (through professional networks and so on) and more experienced than their political counterparts, it is difficult to deny that local government officers make a significant contribution to the overall policy process in local authorities, and to the more general nature of democracy at the local level. It is important, therefore, that the behaviour of these officers is informed and guided by an underlying culture which supports and understands the political context of democratic local government.


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Notes and references

  1. 1.
    Audit Commission (1995) Paying the Piper: People and Pay Management in Local Government, London: HMSO.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Wilson, D. and Game, C. (1994) Local Government in the United Kingdom, London: Macmillan.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Poole, R. (1978) The Local Government Service in England and Wales, London: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
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    Rhodes, R. A. W. (1986) The National World of Local Government, London: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
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    Marsh, D. and Rhodes, R. A. W. (1992) Policy Networks in British Government, Oxford: Oxford UniversityCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Press; Smith, M. (1993) Pressure, Power and Politics, London: Harvester-Wheatsheaf.Google Scholar
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    Dunleavy, P. (1981) The Politics of Mass Housing in Britain 1945–1975, Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
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    Laffin, M. and Young, K. (1990) Professionalism in Local Government: Change and Challenge, London: LongmanGoogle Scholar
  9. 18.
    Cunningham, I. and Fahey, U. (1976) ‘Administrators and Professionals in Local Government’, Local Government Studies, vol. 2, no. 4, pp. 19–29.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Alexander, A. and Orr, K. (1993) Managing The Fragmented Authority, Luton: Local Government Management Board.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© CLD Ltd 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lawrence Pratchett
  • Melvin Wingfield

There are no affiliations available

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