Scientific governance in Britain, 1914–79

Don Leggett
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Charlotte Sleigh
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Scientific Governance in Britain, 1914-79 provides a ‘big picture’ account of science in modern Britain. It charts the changing contours of science and illuminates its role in governing the nation. The twentieth century saw a dramatic increase in publicly funded research and the number of scientific advisors across government. At the same time science was evoked in the pursuit of the effective and rational management of people and resources – of making policies and achieving Britain’s goals. Spanning fifteen essays, this book examines the connected histories of how science itself was governed, and how it was used in governance. Individually these contributions reveal a breadth of perspectives on the relationship between science and governance. Taken together they connect the many people involved in, and affected by, science in twentieth-century Britain. Essays on the governance of science include topics such as the establishment and functioning of new governmental departments and agencies, as well as the (sometimes uncertain) responses of pre-existing scientific bodies, notably the Royal Society. Operational Research features prominently as the model for later structures. Topics treated under the theme of governance by science include specific elaborations of the sometimes vague-seeming rhetoric of science’s rational fitness as a modus operandi. More concrete ambitions for science are explored in relation to broadcasting, psychology, sociology and education. The essays in this volume combine the latest research on twentieth-century British science with insightful discussion of what it meant to govern – and govern with – science.

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‘The wide range of case studies, both temporally and thematically, make this volume indispensable for any student of British science and government in the twentieth century.'
Waqar Zaidi, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS)
Annals of Science
December 2016

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