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Speaking frankly - parrhesia and public service

Barratt, Edward (2019) 'Speaking frankly - parrhesia and public service.' Management and Organizational History, 14 (3). pp. 294-310. ISSN 1744-9359

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This discussion addresses the history of bureaucratic frank counsel in the British Civil Service, exploring the possibilities and limitations of concepts associated with the later Foucault for its analysis. Foucault makes clear in his lectures that the notion of parrhesia has a long and varied history. This discussion considers a particular trajectory of this ancient idea: the practice of frank counsel in the context of the ethics of the Civil Service in Britain, focusing on the years of Conservative government in the 1980s. We begin by clarifying the interconnection between the practice of bureaucratic frank counsel in Britain and the concept of parrhesia. We are, however, primarily concerned to examine the fate of ‘bureaucratic frank counsel’. Foucauldian scholars of governmentality have been concerned to highlight how ethical attributes of enterprise and responsiveness have displaced the customary ethics of public service. The implication is that the frank counsel of public servants has been silenced. Revisiting the era in which the advanced liberal government of the Civil Service first took shape, we question this view. We explore the emergence of the idea of formal codification as a common aspiration for the defense of customary ethical practices. We conclude by arguing that a deep ambivalence now characterizes this domain of ethical practice.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Foucault, Parrhesia, Bureaucracy, Public Service
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2021 12:17
Last Modified: 18 Aug 2022 12:19

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