Published online by Cambridge University Press: 30 March 2006
Using a variety of archival sources, notably personnel records and municipal minute books, this article builds a picture of the work-life histories of rank-and-file police constables and firefighters in the English cities of Birmingham and Leicester, and contrasts the techniques of behavioural control adopted by their employers. By drawing on an expanding literature on the social history of public institutions, the article compares the experience of managing such disciplined and uniformed public services. The article demonstrates that municipal management combined insidious devices for controlling workers' behaviour with consensual and negotiated tactics deployed by workers aware of the tangible material benefits offered by a career in public service. Moreover, by placing the English experience of municipal policing and fire-fighting in an international context by focusing on the visits and writings made by prominent technical and social reformers, the article offers a framework within which comparative research can be undertaken.