Professor Hugh Pemberton, B.A.(Open), M.A. in Contemporary History (with distinction), Ph.D.(Bristol)


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Personal profile

Research interests

Hugh Pemberton was Professor of Contemporary British History at the University of Bristol. Recently retired but still actively researching and writing, he is an expert on the history of of modern Britain, and particularly of British politics, from the Second World War to the very contemporary.

His research focuses principally on UK economic and social policy (both together in the case of his interest in British pensions policy); public administration and governance; party politics; and the politics of change. His work engages with and seeks empirically to test political science theories of historical institutionalism for he has a particular interest in the means by which radical policy change occurs (and why it sometimes doesn't), in why such change sometimes turns out to be temporary despite intentions to the contrary, and in why it is that changes that might seem apparently superficial sometimes turn out have enduring consequences.

He is currently pursuing twoparallel research projects:

  1. The implementation of neoliberalism in the UK, explored through the Thatcher governments' reform of pensions (as part of the AHRC-funded Thatcher's Pension Reforms project).
  2. The history of Civil Service reform in the Thatcher and John Major eras (research funded by the Cabinet Office as part of an Official History of the Civil Service, published in 2020, but also still ongoing). 

Prof. Pemberton is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and remains Emeritus Professor of Contemporary British History at the University of Bristol.

Contact details

Email: Twitter@hugh_pemberton

Personal website:   

Research interests


Research interests (key words)

Modern and Contemporary British history; British political history; economic policy history; industrial policy and industrial strategy; UK pensions history; pensions policy; pensions crisis; Labour party history; Conservative party history; Thatcher and Thatcherism; ideas and policy; history of government; history of public administration; governance; historical institutionalism; policy and history; history and politics.

Structured keywords and research groupings

  • PolicyBristolBusinessAndEconomicPolicy
  • PolicyBristolGovernanceAndPublicServices


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