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 9: Using drama to understand street-level practice

Tony Evans


The focus of this chapter is the challenge of investigating the intentions, commitments and perspectives of a particular group of street-level actors – professionals. Research often discounts intentions or assumes that actors’ intentions and commitments are easily read. These approaches, though, can miss expertise embodied in practice. The author argues that we need to augment current research approaches to engage with deeply embedded knowledge and commitments. Techniques from drama, it is suggested, have the potential to develop the repertoire of qualitative research to better engage with street-level practices and capture the complex and dynamic material needed to understand professional practices. The author draws on material from a research project involving drama practitioners to illustrate this argument, and explain how, through this project, collaborators identified and developed a research approach, drawing on techniques and ideas from interactive and immersive drama practice, which are sensitive tools to investigate expertise underpinning professional practices at street level.

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