Theories of the State in British Politics
The increasing ideological polarisation of British politics charted in Chapter 1 has been matched in academic work by a more vigorous debate between major theoretical positions. Three broad streams of thought project distinctive pictures of the British state and political system. The ‘mainstream’ liberal view is still a pluralist one, emphasising the dispersion of power in British society and the orientation of public policy towards improving overall social welfare. Ultimate control over government rests with citizens, and an open, many-sided process of political representation approximates as closely as is feasible to a working liberal democracy. Within this broad perspective, a neo-pluralist view emphasises the complexity of government in advanced industrial societies, the inevitability of an extended state role, and the need to supplement traditional representative politics with new kinds of control mechanisms in the public interest.
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