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Aspects of Birmingham community power around 1900: A study of decision-making.

Jones, Lewis William (1992) Aspects of Birmingham community power around 1900: A study of decision-making. MPhil thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

This study of Birmingham's local history around 1900 adopts a decision-making methodology, rooted in a modified and expanded version of Lukes' first dimension of power. Three significant and contrasting decision-making areas are investigated. It is argued that the council had little choice but to build the Elan valley waterworks if public health were to be safeguarded. Some of the ratepayers protested at the expense, but they failed to show that the scheme was unnecessary. Its enormous cost, however, caused growing disenchantment with Birmingham's "forward" civic policy. In contrast, the municipalisation of Birmingham's electricity supply industry was not forced upon the council by circumstances, but occurred at a time when the municipal trading movement was at its height, and when the potential profitability of electricity was becoming increasingly obvious. Throughout, the Corporation reserved to itself the power to municipalise by dominating the political agenda. In housing, despite a growing concern over slum conditions, the city council, after a few small-scale experiments, rejected proposals for municipal house building and relied instead upon a policy of "slum patching." This development, in sharp contrast to the council's large scale building schemes after 1918, is explained via an investigation of the "mobilisation of bias" against more radical reform. Throughout, it is argued that Lukes' definitional categories can be modified so that the significant concepts of agenda setting and mobilisation of bias through decisions and non-decisions may be incorporated into the first dimension of power. Accordingly, contrary to many claims, they are susceptible to empirical analysis in the first dimension of power. Such an analysis sheds new light on both familiar and unfamiliar issues.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil)
Uncontrolled Keywords: History, European, Political Science, General
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/1136

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