By the 1980s, UK government research laboratories were an often quirky but always essential part of the state sector. The importance of these laboratories only usually becomes evident when there is some new and frightening scientific public issue - for example 'mad cow disease', foot and mouth disease or anthrax threats. Yet much of the work of these laboratories is more prosaic but nevertheless vital. In one of the most radical experiments in the organization and management of scientific research attempted in the UK, successive Conservative governments in the 1980s and 1990s sought to reform these laboratories by applying the market-based solution of 'New Public Management'. For many laboratories this meant some form of privatization, for the remainder it meant a significant degree of marketization within the public sector. Scrutinising Science explores and critiques that reform process by examining the laboratories' new organizational forms, the new visions of what science is for implicit in the reform agenda and the new forms of scientific knowledge production that have arisen as a consequence.

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