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Parrhesia and the ethics of public service - towards a genealogy of the bureaucrat as frank counsellor.

Barratt, Edward (2020) 'Parrhesia and the ethics of public service - towards a genealogy of the bureaucrat as frank counsellor.' Foucault Studies, 28 (28). pp. 120-141. ISSN 1832-5203 (In Press)

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Abstract

Foucault makes clear in his later lectures that the notion of parrhesia has a long and varied history, which he merely sketches in his investigations of ancient politics and philosophy. Recent research extends and modifies Foucault’s genealogy of parrhesia as an aspect of the practice of the adviser or counsellor of a monarch or prince, showing how parrhesia informed notions of counsel at other times: in later antiquity, the middle ages as well as early modern Europe. Here we seek to show that the ancient notion of parrhesia reappears as a graft in another domain of modern truth telling: that of bureaucracy in Brit-ain, with the debates over the organisation of the offices of government, with the middle years of the nineteenth century a decisive moment of rupture. We consider the fate of bu-reaucratic frank counsel in our own era. Interpreters of Foucault’s later lectures on govern-mentality have analysed the consequences of neoliberal rule for the government of public servants, during the era of Margaret Thatcher. Presenting a reappraisal of the era in which neoliberalism first took shape as a practical programme for the government of Civil Service bu-reaucrats, we show how important counter - discourses also emerged in this era, bringing the ethics of office to the fore. Civil servants argued for the formal codification of bureaucratic ethics, includ-ing frank counsel, as they tried to defend their professional ethics. Our discussion therefore ad-dresses a key, early moment in the emergence of the ideal of codifying frank counsel and bureau-cratic ethics. We consider the consequences of codification arguing that a deep ambivalence now characterises the way in which political authorities seek to govern this domain of ethical practice – an ambivalence anticipated by the arguments of the Conservative’s critics of the 1980s.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2020 12:43
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 14:17
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/28599

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