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The Politics of Expertiseoffers a challenging new interpretation of politics in contemporary Britain, through an examination of non-governmental organisations. Using specific case studies of the homelessness, environment, and international aid and development sectors, it demonstrates how politics and political activism has changed over the last half century. NGOs have contributed enormously to a professionalization and a privatization of politics, emerging as a new form of expert knowledge and political participation. They have been led by a new breed of non-party politician, working in collaboration and in competition with government. Skilful navigators of the modern technocratic state, they have brought expertise to expertise and, in so doing, have changed the nature of grassroots activism. As affluent citizens have felt marginalised by the increasingly complex nature of many policy solutions, they have made the rational calculation to support NGOs, the professionalism and resources of which make them better able to tackle complex problems. Yet in doing so, support rather than participation becomes the more appropriate way to describe the relationship of the public to NGOs. As voter turnout has declined, membership and trust in NGOs has increased. But NGOs are very different types of organisations from the classic democratic institutions of political parties and the labour movement. They maintain different and varied relationships with the publics they seek to represent. Attracting mass support has provided them with the resources and the legitimacy to speak to power on a bewildering range of issues, yet perhaps the ultimate victors in this new form of politics are the NGOs themselves.
Matthew Hilton is the author of Smoking in British Popular Culture (2000), Consumerism in Twentieth-Century Britain (2003), and Prosperity for All: Consumer Activism in an Era of Globalisation (2009). Most recently, he is the joint author, with Nicholas Crowson, Jean-Francois Mouhot & James McKay, of A History of NGOs in Britain: Charities, Civil Society and the Voluntary Sector since 1945 (2012).
James McKay is the co-editor of two volumes on NGOs and the voluntary sector: with Matthew Hilton and Nick Crowson, NGOs in Contemporary Britain: Non-state Actors in Society and Politics since 1945 (2009); and, with Matthew Hilton, The Ages of Voluntarism: How We Got to the Big Society (2011). Along with Matthew Hilton, Nicholas Crowson and Jean-Francois Mouhot, he is the co-author of A History of NGOs in Britain: Charities, Civil Society and the Voluntary Sector since 1945 (2012).
Nicholas Crowson is the author of Facing Fascism: The Conservative Party and the European Dictators 1935-40 (1997), The Conservative Party and European Integration since 1945: At the Heart of Europe? (2006), and Britain and Europe: A Political History since 1918 (2010). Most recently, he is the joint author, with Matthew Hilton, Jean-Francois Mouhot & James McKay, of A History of NGOs in Britain: Charities, Civil Society and the Voluntary Sector since 1945 (2012).
Jean-Francois Mouhot is the author of Les Refugies acadiens en France (1758-1785): limpossible reintegration? (2009), Des Esclaves Energetiques: Reflexions sur le changement climatique (2011) and co-editor (with Charles-Francois Mathis) of Une Protection de l'Environnement a la Francaise? (XIXe-XXesiecles) (2012). Most recently, he is the joint author, with Matthew Hilton, Nicholas Crowson, and James McKay, of A History of NGOs in Britain: Charities, Civil Society and the Voluntary Sector since 1945 (2012).