Corruption and the reform of public life in modern Britain
in The many lives of corruption
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This introductory chapter sets out the aims of the volume and how it develops and challenges an existing body of work on the history of corruption and public life in modern Britain. Broadly speaking, it proceeds in two parts and is designed to help readers new to the subject negotiate what has become a complex field of study and historiography. The first part introduces readers to the concept of corruption and provides a brief survey of how the term has been used in British public life from the early modern period through to the modern period covered by the book. Critiquing recent literature on this subject, it argues that although ‘corruption’ underwent a process of conceptual and regulatory refinement after roughly 1800, it remained highly politicised, reflecting the persistence of different ways of understanding the public good. The second part introduces readers to the key elements of British public life traversed in the chapters that follow and is more straightforwardly historical. These elements are the central administrative state; the civic realm of elections and municipal government; and, finally, the party-political domain of ministers, MPs and parliament.

The many lives of corruption

The reform of public life in modern Britain, 1750–1950

Editors: Ian Cawood and Tom Crook


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