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Events, Research

Call for participation: Researching administrative power workshop

Researching administrative power

The dramatic Grenfell Tower fire in London in 2017 illustrates poignantly the need to articulate specific administrative fields (fire inspections, building material regulation, poverty alleviation, housing, financial support to vulnerable communities) and to develop responses across the administrative system (regulation, accountability, learning from past mistakes). Rule-making and implementation of administrative decisions are indeed becoming embedded in a complex administrative machinery, where mapping the allocation of power becomes an extremely daunting task. Currently, two opposite dynamics seem to drive the organisation of administrative decision-making in the UK: one involves focusing administrative power on core tasks of policing and controlling compliance and the other spreading administrative power across a wide range of diverse actors, public and private, at central, devolved and local level.

This situation calls for a systematic investigation into how administrative power is organised and channelled and how rule-making and decision-making are actually organised in the UK. The distinctive place and role of the law in this process need to be identified. The law is not merely controlling administrative power ex post; it is also framing, organising and channelling how administrative power is used ex ante. But how does this actually happen?

We invite applications to participate in a two-day workshop on ‘Researching administrative power’ at the University of Essex, Colchester, on 20th-21st September, 2018, organised with the financial support of the Society of Legal Scholars. This workshop is organised by Prof Peter Cane (Cambridge and ANU) and Dr Yseult Marique (Essex and Speyer).


Selected participants will take part in a workshop providing a forum for discussion with senior academics with extensive expertise in UK administration and its intricacies, as well as for feedback, networking and practical guidance about how to carry out research grounded in well-thought methods.

Confirmed participants include: Prof David Cowan (Bristol), Prof Simon Halliday (York and New South Wales), Prof Robert Hazell (UCL, Constitution Unit).


Papers that address one or more of the following questions will be considered:

(1) the role of the law and social norms in shaping and structuring administrative power and discretion;

(2) how administrations make and implement decisions, alone and with public and private partners, especially how administrative power is distributed and shared in complex institutional arrangements (e.g. outsourcing, combined authorities, at governmental length’s bodies);

(3) which factors (political, social, institutional, cultural) influence how administrative power is exercised and how the law provides a structure or a space for administrations to balance these competing factors?


• You are a Early Career Researcher (i.e. an academic completing your PhD or within ten years of the PhD award) based in an academic institution.

• You want to contribute to developing and fostering cutting edge research into the working of the administration in the UK and the role of the law in this process.

• You are developing a plan for research into the working of the administration (broadly understood) in the UK (at any level and any specific area; cross-cutting themes are very much welcome).

• You are interested in discussing research questions and reflecting on research methods; you are seeking to develop a well-designed project based on effective and sound methodologies.


Please send a 1,000-word summary of your research project, together with a CV, to ymarique@essex.ac.uk by noon on April 15, 2018. Please indicate clearly your research question, research method/design as well as the main challenges (already encountered or anticipated) of your research. Please indicate the reference of an academic (e.g. Head of School, Research director, PhD supervisor etc.) in your institution willing to support your application to this workshop.

Up to 10-12 early career researchers will be selected to participate in this project. You will be notified by May 15, 2018 at the latest of the outcome of the selection process.

The event is free of charge, but participants will cover their own travel and accommodation costs.

For further information, please contact ymarique@essex.ac.uk

This project is funded by the Society of Legal Scholars (SLS).


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