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Gabriela Lotta and Roberto Pires

The chapter invites street-level bureaucracy researchers to analytically explore public service workers/users encounters as potential loci for the reproduction of social inequalities. The authors recognize current theoretical lacunae in connecting debates about the reproduction of social inequalities and about the implementation part of the policy process. Their goal is to explore these intersections and offer adequate analytical lenses by reviewing approaches, concepts and methods in the existing literature. They found that social inequality has most commonly been treated as a consequence of street-level implementation, one among many potential results of discretionary decision-making (i.e. distributive injustice). The authors go beyond this mainstream view by adding alternative ways to bring social inequality to the centre of analysis of street-level implementation: as a factor interfering with street-level bureaucrats’ moral judgements and acts of classification and also as a condition permeating their interactions with service users.

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Salo Coslovsky, Roberto Pires and Susan S. Silbey