This article examines the enduring significance of Britain's imperial past for understanding various aspects of contemporary British politics. It specifically explores its effects on British national identity and its role in shaping perspectives on globalization and foreign policy, as those policies attempt to modernize and maximize the UK's continuing role in great power politics. It takes up ‘the elusive question of the effects of the end of British Empire on post-colonial Britain’. The end of empire brought new British foreign policy formulations and challenges. The challenges facing Britain after empire may be simply stated: to achieve a high degree of social and political integration that helps resolve the tension between unity and diversity; and to refocus British foreign policy and the special relationship to advance development goals and strengthen multilateral institutions that will serve enduring British interests and sustain a robust international community.
This article investigates the association between ageing and politics, and emphasizes its dynamic nature. A summary of the new politics of ageing with reference to the macro- and meso/micro-levels is first provided. It also presents a discussion of the limitations of the political influence and potential influence of older people which casts doubt on the popular notion of grey power, and some reflections on the prospects for generational relations in Britain. The article is concerned with public issues rather than personal ones, even when these are political. Despite the signs of growing political participation, the article concludes that the barriers to it remain formidable and that the notion of ‘grey power’ is far-fetched.
This article deals with the evolution of British international development policy under the Department for International Development (DFID). It outlines the changing position of the international development agency within Whitehall and major developments in global thinking on aid and development policy. It briefly summarizes the organization of DFID as it relates to aid policy. It then covers aid allocation for poverty reduction, and emphasizes the importance of partnerships over conditionality. It finally addresses why the DFID chose certain approaches and offers a discussion of current policy statements that show economic growth and, in certain respects, suggest a shift of British development policy thinking to closer alignment with the mainstream. In the period since the DFID was established, Britain has become one of the most important and influential donors in terms of the volume of aid and aid policy and it is this that represents the international development legacy.
This article explores British approaches in politics over three periods — pre-1914, inter-war years, and post-1945 — and describes their merits. The first period is dominated by historians and a consensus around the Whig interpretation; the second sees the emergence of a number of academic political scientists based in universities; and the final period witnesses the stresses and pressures from the expansion and specialization of the discipline. Challenges have emerged from outside the discipline, particularly from: significant recent changes in British political institutions and behaviour, dissatisfaction with the performance of British political institutions and by extension with the mindset associated with the Westminster model, and the growing tendency to study British politics as part of a European system or polity. In general, there have been trends to professionalization and positivism in British political science. But these forces have not driven out other traditions from the discipline.
This article provides an historical narrative of the contingent ways in which anti-foundationalism has been brought to the study of British politics from within critical, socialist traditions. It starts by briefly mentioning some of the less contentious implications for social philosophy. It also explains why anti-foundational philosophy is compatible with diverse approaches to political science, and considers the implications of the analysis of anti-foundationalism for its place in the study of British politics. The anti-foundationalists' emphasis on meanings, contingency, historical narratives, and critique opens up the study of British politics. Anti-foundationalists have initiated dialogues between British politics and historiography, cultural studies, and post-colonial studies.
This article first reports the three key features of (‘early’) behaviouralism, namely its philosophy of social science, commitment to observable behaviour as the dependent variable in political analysis, and the commitment to ‘scientific’ methods. It also addresses the various reasons why, and ways in which, the British experience of behaviouralism is distinctive. The notion of post-behaviouralism, supposedly a new version emerging in response to potent criticisms of the approach, is considered. While the extent of change has been overstated, the post-behaviouralist critique highlights several criteria for evaluating the behaviouralist research. The article then imposes those criteria on to behaviouralism in Britain, and picks out some of its notable contributions to the understanding of British politics. It highlights the possible ways to improve that contribution further. Behaviouralism is a political science, but it is an inexact science, and in practice behaviouralists are always less rigidly positivist, and less grand in ambition, than is often assumed.
The association between political biography and the academic study of politics in Britain varies between the distantly tolerant and the mildly suspicious. British and American readers have shared Disraeli's assumption that the biographer's ‘life without theory’ is somehow more real. Non-academic writers have tended to follow suit. Against that background, this article tries to review the evolution of political biography, particularly in Britain, over the last century and a half. The story begins with the vast, intimidating, so-called ‘tombstone’ biographies of the Victorians and their early twentieth-century successors. There is more than a hint of Carl Schmitt's famous insight that the crucial political relationship is that of ‘friend’ to ‘enemy’, indeed that politics is about the identification of friends and enemies. Charismatic leadership is — or at least ought to be — fertile soil for political biographers.
This article argues that the impact of Anglo-America on Britain and British politics has been profound and persistent, and that it is best understood as a transnational political space. First, it reviews the historical development of Anglo-America and the different theoretical perspectives for understanding it. It then investigates the three key aspects of the relationship — strategic, economic, and ideological — and shows how they have come to define Anglo-America. Despite the ever deeper involvement of Britain in the process of European integration, a significant part of the British political class and British public opinion is increasingly Euro-sceptic. There is still a question as to whether in the long term Anglo-America can provide a serious alternative to Europe for Britain.
Robert E. Goodin
This article provides a discussion on the British study of politics. First, it addresses the revolution of 1975. The puzzle of why big ideas do come out of Britain, but there is a reluctance to brag about them, might be explained by the simple fact that there is a live-and-let-live reluctance to try to shove one's own ideas, however big, down the throat of the profession as a whole. It is suggested that UK political science probably is not pulling its weight at the very highest levels of political science worldwide. While concentrating on providing an academic assessment of British political science, it then closes with some comments on the contribution of the profession to British public life more broadly. Much of the contribution comes through deep-background influence on public values and public culture, through media appearances and helping to shape public debates.
This article explores the conflict between interpretivists and mainstream researchers about the purpose of research and the role of theory, method, and evidence in the context of the British central state. It locates this debate within the context of the vaunted transition from government to governance. Moreover, the recent ‘third wave’ governance-theoretic research is described and the six specific research agendas in this field are presented: power in policy-making networks, multi-level governance, core executive studies, prime ministerial power, central departments and the administrative/politics interface, and the central state beyond departments. Finally, it locates the study of the central state within a number of broader themes and issues. The ‘first-wave’ analysis of governance was initially developed without any reference to the interpretivist approach and still sets the broad framework for current research. The vibrant current ‘third-wave’ research on governance has contributed knowledge about important substantive topics.