Experts at work: State autonomy, social learning and eugenic sterilizationin 1930s Britain

Authors
Citation
D. King et R. Hansen, Experts at work: State autonomy, social learning and eugenic sterilizationin 1930s Britain, BR J POLI S, 29, 1999, pp. 77-107
Citations number
82
Language
INGLESE
art.tipo
Article
Categorie Soggetti
Politucal Science & public Administration
Journal title
BRITISH JOURNAL OF POLITICAL SCIENCE
ISSN journal
0007-1234 → ACNP
Volume
29
Year of publication
1999
Part
1
Pages
77 - 107
Database
ISI
SICI code
0007-1234(199901)29:<77:EAWSAS>2.0.ZU;2-U
Abstract
One influential strand of public policy-making theory imputes considerable autonomy to civil servants (and politicians) from social pressures; and, in Heclo's variant, conceives of policy makers as engaging in a benign proces s of social learning, the results of which benefit society. In this article we use the campaign to enact legislation for voluntary sterilization as an example of such a process. The analysis is based on archival records of th e deliberations of the Brock Committee (1932-34), established to investigat e the desirability of sterilization; it demonstrates how the committee atte mpted to develop a stronger case for the measure than warranted by the scie ntific evidence. We argue that the content of the Brock Committee's deliber ations conforms in broad terms to the predictions of social learning theory , but that the process was more complicated than this framework would sugge st, involving a significant element of interest-group lobbying, thereby wea kening the autonomy of state policy makers. Furthermore, the deliberations themselves give cause to revise the laudatory view, more or less explicit i n social learning theory, of policy experts' machinations.