Publication Type: Journal article / chapter
Countries: UK
Authors: Emma Crewe Nicholas Sarra
Funders: AHRC GCRF

Select committee chairs walk between friends and foes, say Emma Crewe and Nicholas Sarra in this open access article on the political, social, and emotional world created by the UK’s House of Commons select committees and the part played by their chairs. Drawing upon the theoretical traditions of political anthropology, group analytical theory, and pragmatic philosophy, the researchers portray the experience of individuals as relational, created in their interaction with other individuals and groups. Committee chairs, members and staff are constrained by architecture, rules, and rituals in their bid to achieve plausibility, but at the same time they find room to express individuality in the ways that they manage emotions and communicate with others through words, silence, bodily movements, and facial expressions. By embodying the committee, and mediating between those involved – walking between friends and enemies – chairs create the impression that select committees are above party politics.