The State at Work, Volume 1

The State at Work, Volume 1

Public Sector Employment in Ten Western Countries

Edited by Hans-Ulrich Derlien and B. Guy Peters

Representing the most extensive research on public employment, this volume explores the radical changes that have taken place in the configuration of national public services due to a general expansion of public employment that was followed by stagnation and decreases. Part-time employment and the involvement of women also increased as a component of the public sector and were linked to the most important growth areas such as the educational, health care and personal social services sectors. The two volumes that make up this study shed important insight on these changes.

Chapter 2: Public Employment in Britain: From Working in to Working

Brian W. Hogwood

Subjects: economics and finance, public sector economics, politics and public policy, public policy


for the public sector? Brian W. Hogwood DISTINCTIVE BRITISH FEATURES There are special features in Britain which cause problems of analysis of trends in Britain across time within Britain as well as comparison of apparently similar public employment status in other countries. An important feature of British public administration is its lack of public law basis. There is no legal definition of what constitutes public employment. Even the concept of a civil servant lacks such a basis (see Drewry and Butcher 1991, pp. 9–30) – and in fact the United Kingdom has more than one civil service! A second feature of Britain is that the concept of ‘civil servant’ is both narrower and wider than obtains in many other European countries, being confined to direct employees of central government departments (leaving aside the problem of defining what those are). Employees of bodies in receipt of state funds in Britain, such as universities even when these have a state charter, are not only not civil servants, but are not considered to be public employees at all. On the other hand, with minor exceptions, employees of central government departments, even the declining number of manual workers, are nearly all classified as civil servants. This leads on to a broader point of great relevance to analysing post1970s trends in Britain: the government classifies employment as either public or private. Within the ‘private’ sector it does not distinguish for employment purposes, public function bodies in receipt of government funds...

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