Scientists, trade unions and labour movement policies for science and technology, 1947-1964

  • David S. Horner

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    This thesis describes the history of the scientific Left beginning with the period of its most extensive influence in the mid-1940s as a movement for the planning of science and ending with the Labour Party's programme of 1964 claiming to harness science and socialism. Its central theme is the external and internal pressures involved in the project to align left-wing politics, trade unions and social responsibility in science. The problematic aspects of this project are examined in the evolution of the Association of Scientific Workers and the World Federation of Scientific Workers as organisations committed to trade union and science policy objectives. This is presented also in the broader context of the Association's attempts to influence the Trade Union Congress's policies for science and technology in a more radical direction. The thesis argues that the shift in the balance of political forces in the labour movement, in the scientific community and in the state brought about by the Cold War was crucial in frustrating these endeavours. This led to alternative, but largely unsuccessful attempts, in the form of the Engels Society and subsequently Science for Peace to create the new expressions of the left-wing politics of science. However, the period 1956-1964 was characterised by intensive interest within the Labour Party in science and technology which reopened informal channels of political influence for the scientific Left. This was not matched by any radical renewal within the Association or the Trade Union Congress and thus took place on a narrower basis and lacked the democratic aspects of the earlier generation of socialist science policy.
    Date of Award1986
    Original languageEnglish


    • Scientists
    • trade unions
    • labour movement policies
    • science
    • technology
    • 1947-1964

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