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Understanding street-level bureaucracy$
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Peter Hupe, Peter Hupe, Michael Hill, and Aurèlien Buffat

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781447313267

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447313267.001.0001

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Personalisation and adult social work

Personalisation and adult social work

Recasting professional discretion at the street level?

(p.187) Eleven Personalisation and adult social work
Understanding street-level bureaucracy

Kathryn Ellis

Policy Press

The chapter takes as its starting point challenges to Lipsky’s (1980) approach to street-level bureaucracy gained from modelling frontline discretion in adult social work under care management and direct payments. The significance of these insights for understanding the impact on frontline behaviour of a shift towards personalisation policy and practice is explored first before considering the wider implications for this field of study. The author concludes that although street-level bureaucracy remains a powerful tool for making sense of the way adult social workers use discretion, it is subject to certain mediating influences. The particular institutional characteristics of adult social care are important in this respect, but the challenge of maintaining professional identity in the face of the pervasive formalisation of frontline practice and assertion of user control are likely to be common to a number of contemporary policy fields.

Keywords:   personalisation, managerialisation, risk

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