Accounting for the evolution of local government in Britain

J. A. Chandler

in Explaining Local Government

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print September 2007 | ISBN: 9780719067068
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781701355 | DOI:
Accounting for the evolution of local government in Britain

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There is no single factor which accounts for the distancing of Britain's system of local government from that of France or the United States. Each country had developed large sub-national territorial units. In Britain these were the counties; in America the states, which, in turn, were subdivided into counties; and in France a variety of institutions such as the généralités and intendances, which were, after the 1789 revolution, transformed into the departments. Despite the similarities, there were some significant differences between Britain, France and the United States. The interplay between monarchy, bourgeoisie and peasantry that explains the differing patterns of democracy which emerged in the three countries had important implications for inter-governmental relationships. Although, in Britain, concessions by landowners to capitalists did not promote strong moves towards centralisation, there were forces at work that were slowly undermining the dual polity. This chapter explores centralisation and the politics of redistribution, as well as the restructuring of local government in Britain.

Keywords: local government; Britain; France; United States; monarchy; bourgeoisie; peasantry; democracy; centralisation; restructuring

Chapter.  6627 words. 

Subjects: UK Politics

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