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Science Policy under Thatcher

1st Edition

Margaret Thatcher was prime minister from 1979 to 1990, during which time her Conservative administration transformed the political landscape of Britain. Science Policy under Thatcher is the first book to systematically the interplay of science and government under her leadership.
Thatcher was a working scientist before she became a professional politician, and she maintained a close watch on science matters as prime minister. Scientific knowledge and advice were important to many urgent issues of the 1980s, from late Cold War questions of defense to emerging environmental problems, such as acid rain and climate change. Drawing on newly released primary sources, Jon Agar explores how Thatcher worked with and occasionally against the structures of scientific advice, as the scientific aspects of such issues were balanced or conflicted with other demands and values. To what extent, for example, was the freedom of the individual scientist to choose research projects balanced against the desire to secure more commercial applications? What was Thatcher’s stance towards European scientific collaboration and commitments? How did cuts in public expenditure affect the publicly funded research and teaching of universities?
​In weaving together numerous topics, including AIDS and bioethics, the nuclear industry and strategic defense, Agar adds to the picture we have of Thatcher and her radically Conservative agenda, and argues that the science policy devised under her leadership, not least in relation to industrial strategy, had a prolonged influence on the culture of British science.

304 pages | 0 | 6.14 x 9.21 | © 2019

Free digital open access editions are available to download from UCL Press.

History: European History, General History

Physical Sciences: History and Philosophy of Physical Sciences

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction
2 Who made science policy?
3 The central debates on science and innovation
Coda to Chapter 3: AIDS and bioethics
4 Power/leaks
5 Radioactive privatisation
6 The Strategic Defense Initiative and the politics of research
7 Environment and science
8 Science policy under and after Thatcher

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