By John Gyford (auth.)
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Additional info for Citizens, Consumers and Councils: Local Government and the Public
At the time and point of occurrence such forms of collective action no doubt very effectively concentrate the minds oflocal authorities very effectively. Yet in the longer run it may be that the major challenge has been in knowing how to respond not to the crowd in its various manifestations but to the emergence of new social movements. In addition to characterising social movements in terms of their uneasy combination of spontaneity and structure Freeman also points to their tendency to shy away from traditional forms of organisation based on bureaucracy, centralisation and the division of labour in favour of looser, more participatory models (idem, p.
Two particular sets of changes are of importance in this context. One is the gradual move away from a predominantly urban and industrial society towards one characterised by a drift away from the cities and by both de-industrialisation and changing forms of production. The other is the emergence of an increasingly diverse society and of a less deferential, more assertive political culture, both of which have contributed to the appearance of new forms of politics. 23 24 Citizens, Consumers and Councils After the industrial city The origins of our present local government system are closely related to the impact of industrialisation and urbanisation on social life during the nineteenth century.
The aspirations of Mill and Webb were however to come up against the constraints of representative democracy, bureaucracy and professionalism: it is these very constraints which are now under challenge through the new articulation of the roles of citizen and consumer. Local Government and the Public 21 Reappraisals Since the middle of the 1970s there has developed 'what might be described as a stage of reappraisal in local politics, with the emergence of major debates both between and within the political parties about the role of local government in society' (Gyford, 1985a, p.