Managing Politics? Ethics Regulation and Conflicting Conceptions of "Good Conduct"

Richard Cowell, James Downe, Karen Morgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Concern for fostering trust in public institutions has prompted many governments to invest in systems of ethics regulation, embracing various dimensions of good governance. This article assesses the impact of ethics regulation on the conduct of English local politicians using Foucauldian perspectives on government, power, and resistance. The research finds that ethics regulation encountered problems when politicians resisted the models of political identity and behavior that it was perceived to promote. Particular concentrations of misconduct complaints were identified in which politicians believed that changes to political management structures, designed to make local governance more effective, caused a loss of voice for elected representatives. Ethics regulation itself sometimes served as a device for controlling others and effecting resistance. The article concludes with reflections on how far we should expect political conduct to be managed by such regulatory practices.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-38
Number of pages10
JournalPublic Administration Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


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