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 28: Street-level bureaucracy and democratic theory

Bernardo Zacka

Abstract

This chapter aims to initiate a structured conversation between political theory and the literature on street-level bureaucracy. It presents four questions that empirical findings on street-level bureaucracy raise for democratic theory, sketches preliminary answers to them and charts promising lines for future inquiry. The questions examined are: the justification of street-level discretion, the values that should guide its use, the challenge of retaining a balanced moral disposition in the thick of everyday work and the problem of securing street-level accountability.

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