This article explores local government traditions in the UK. This task is an important one for scholars who wish to understand and appreciate the rich cultural complexity of local government organizations. In local government settings, traditions can be used in the study and evaluation of political and managerial practices. They provide lenses through which the routines, structures and processes of management and politics may be viewed. The delineation of multiple traditions heightens the sense that local government is not a unified homogeneous organizational entity, but rather a melange of voices, interests and assumptions about how to organize, prioritize and mobilize action. They can be used to engage practitioners with the idea that different traditions inform political and managerial practices and processes in local councils. The approach embraces the significance of participants' constitutive stories about local government rather than the search for essential truths about the politics and management of the public sector.