Research Handbook on Street-Level Bureaucracy
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Research Handbook on Street-Level Bureaucracy

The Ground Floor of Government in Context

Edited by Peter Hupe

When the objectives of public policy programmes have been formulated and decided upon, implementation seems just a matter of following instructions. However, it is underway to the realization of those objectives that public policies get their final substance and form. Crucial is what happens in and around the encounter between public officials and individual citizens at the street level of government bureaucracy. This Research Handbook addresses the state of the art while providing a systematic exploration of the theoretical and methodological issues apparent in the study of street-level bureaucracy and how to deal with them.
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Chapter 8: Discrimination and representation in street-level bureaucracies

Nadine Raaphorst and Sandra Groeneveld


From its very beginning, street-level bureaucracy scholarship has been engaged in inequality in decision-making. Street-level research shows how street-level bureaucrats use stereotypes related to citizen-clients’ background characteristics, such as social class and ethnicity, to make decisions. Within street-level bureaucracy literature, there is however little insight into how street-level bureaucrats’ own background characteristics may affect their use of stereotypes in decision-making. The representative bureaucracy literature does focus on this link between officials’ background and decision-making regarding minority groups: it focuses on how officials representing a minority group make decisions that favour minority interests. This chapter contributes to street-level bureaucracy research on stereotyping by paying attention to possible mechanisms that may explain how officials’ background may affect the decision-making regarding citizen-clients from minority groups.

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