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The State at Work, Volume 2

Comparative Public Service Systems

Edited by Hans-Ulrich Derlien and B. Guy Peters

Representing the most extensive research on public employment, this volume explores the radical changes that have taken place in the configuration of national public services due to a general expansion of public employment that was followed by stagnation and decreases. Part-time employment and the involvement of women also increased as a component of the public sector and were linked to the most important growth areas such as the educational, health care and personal social services sectors. The two volumes that make up this study shed important insight on these changes.
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Chapter 8: Societal Links and Social Differentiation of the Public Service

Hans-Ulrich Derlien and Luc Rouban


8. Societal links and social differentiation of the public service Hans-Ulrich Derlien and Luc Rouban INTRODUCTION This chapter deals with the public service as a social system. It pulls together information from the country reports regarding the internal specialization and stratification of public services. This internal focus on the public services is complemented by two macro-sociological perspectives, one concerning the prestige of and trust in the public service and the other relating to the administrative elite and their interaction with the political and the economic environment. The next section deals with the social standing of public services in the various national societies. It refers to the ongoing political debate about the boundaries between the public and private sectors as well as to subjective social perceptions and evaluations of the public service and trust in institutions in general. The following two sections turn to the internal social differentiation of what appears to be a largely opaque public service by comparing the various national service systems according to their internal legal (civil servants vs. contractual public employees and labourers) and social (qualification and rank) differentiations. Like any social system, the public service in all OECD countries is internally differentiated, both functionally and in terms of social stratification. Of special interest here are the differences between countries with a system of administrative corps and those without. Then we turn to the public service as a social system within the broader society by looking at elite...

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