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The Western Ideology and Other Essays$
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Andrew Gamble

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781529217049

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781529217049.001.0001

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Ideas and Interests in British Economic Policy1

Ideas and Interests in British Economic Policy1

(p.59) 3 Ideas and Interests in British Economic Policy1
The Western Ideology and Other Essays

Andrew Gamble

Policy Press

This essay explores the interaction between ideas and interests in understanding the Keynesian and Thatcher eras. It uses three accounts of what is most important in shaping public policy; general doctrines about the nature of society and the role of government, such as Dicey’s contrast between individualism and collectivism; economic interests; and historical and institutional contexts. The role of thinktanks, expertise, and the competitive democratic process in developing the role of general doctrines and the climate of ideas are discussed, and are contrasted with interest accounts which rely on theoretical insights into the structure of classes or the structure of collective action or the structure of public choice. Both approaches are vulnerable to a critique employing historical methods to reconstruct the actual contexts in which public policy is made.

Keywords:   Ideologies, Interests, Policy, Keynes, Collectivism

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