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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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Fulfilling the promise of professionalism in street-level practice

Fulfilling the promise of professionalism in street-level practice

(p.263) Fifteen Fulfilling the promise of professionalism in street-level practice
Understanding street-level bureaucracy

Paul van der Aa

Rik van Berkel

Policy Press

This chapter aims to contribute to the street-level bureaucracy debate by examining theoretically and empirically how understanding of street-level bureaucrats’ agency can be improved by analysing their enactment of professionalism in policy production, given the changing context in which they work. Moreover, this chapter critically reflects on the promise of professionalism as a potential source of horizontal accountability for street-level policy production. The theoretical focus is on the enactment of professionalism in the delivery of social policies and the challenge for street-level bureaucrats to work with various, contested standards. The actual manifestation of this challenge is related to the specific organisational, policy and occupational context in which workers operate. Empirically, the argument is grounded in research on the enactment of professionalism by workers delivering the emerging profession of ‘job activation’ in the Netherlands. Such emerging professions provide an especially relevant case to study the contemporary enactment of public professionalism.

Keywords:   professionalization, welfare to work, frontline strategies, new professions

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