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The State as Cultural Practice$
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Mark Bevir and R. A. W. Rhodes

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199580750

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580750.001.0001

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Living Westminster Traditions

Living Westminster Traditions

(p.156) Chapter 8 Living Westminster Traditions
The State as Cultural Practice

Mark Bevir (Contributor Webpage)

R. A. W. Rhodes (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Chapter 8 looks at the way senior public servants coped with managerial rationalities; the continuous reform of the public service. The rise of the new public management in the 1980s led to recurring challenges to the administrative traditions of the public service in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. The chapter analyses how the heads of the public service articulate the traditions of ‘constitutional bureaucracy’ found in Westminster systems of parliamentary government and selectively draw on past understandings to understand present-day changes. It describes living traditions under challenge that reshape reforms as reforms reshape them. It concludes that the heads of the public services have found ‘space’ or ‘voice’ to identify innovative ways of combining past traditions with new organizing principles of governance. In each case, it is not a question of ‘in with the new, out with the old’, but of ‘in with the new alongside key parts of the old’. The myths and legends of yore remain germane to the modern public service.

Keywords:   public service, managerialism, rationalities, Westminster, Australia, Canada, Britain, constitutional bureaucracy, tradition, myth

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