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Governing SystemsModernity and the Making of Public Health in England, 1830-1910$
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Tom Crook

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520290341

Published to California Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520290341.001.0001

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A Perfect Chaos

A Perfect Chaos

Centralization and the Struggle for National System

(p.23) Chapter 2 A Perfect Chaos
Governing Systems

Tom Crook

University of California Press

This chapter explores the struggle to build a national system of public health administration, which was now thought of in terms of coordinating the relations between central and local authorities. It focuses on the midcentury debate on sanitary centralization and competing ideas regarding the merits and proper management of local self-government. It argues that reform entailed acknowledging an administrative inheritance that, from the 1830s onward, stretched back over centuries. The problem was that there was no agreement on quite what this historical inheritance amounted to and whether progress entailed rejecting it, working with it, or even reclaiming it more fully. The politics of public health was made of different readings of the past, as put in the service of different visions of the future.

Keywords:   central authorities, centralization, history, local self-government, national system, politics, struggle

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