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The Social Construction of Expertise

The English Civil Service and Its Influence, 1919–1939

Gail Savage


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The British created a system wherein the social identity of civil servants clearly influenced their position on official matters. This privileged class set the tone for major policy decisions affecting all members of society.  Savage addresses this social construction of power by analyzing the social origins and career patterns of higher-level civil servants as a backdrop for investigating the way four different social service ministries formulated policies between the two World Wars: the Board of Education, the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Labour, and the Ministry of Health.

Praise For The Social Construction of Expertise: The English Civil Service and Its Influence, 1919–1939

“Gail Savage’s book is a splendid example of the best kind of Ph.D. thesis that, while confirming traditional interpretations, demonstrates the subtle differences between a supposedly monolithic governing elite and how its class and educational background operated unconsciously to perpetuate the existing social order.”

“This is the most impressive piece of work, one which combines solid scholarship and a distinctive viewpoint.”
—James B. Christoph, Indiana University

University of Pittsburgh Press, 9780822955962, 248pp.

Publication Date: March 15, 1996

About the Author

Gail Savage is professor of history at St. Mary’s College of Maryland.