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Subversive citizensPower, agency and resistance in public services$
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Marian Barnes and David Prior

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9781847422088

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847422088.001.0001

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Policy, power and the potential for counter-agency

Policy, power and the potential for counter-agency

(p.17) Two Policy, power and the potential for counter-agency
Subversive citizens

David Prior

Policy Press

This chapter presents a conceptual analysis of the processes at work in encounters at the front line between workers and service users, and a way of understanding the potential for subversion that might exist in these spaces. It tries to explore how the relationship between power and resistance might be understood in the specific context of the delivery of public services, and, more particularly, tries to examine the conditions in which resistance to public service policies and practices can take the form of an oppositional or counter-agency on the part of both public officials and citizens. The conceptual starting point for the chapter is ‘governmentality’. The crucial insight of governmentality is that contemporary processes of governing operate through a myriad of mundane, everyday techniques and routines of discipline and control that are exercised by individual citizens, and which enable them to function as self-regulating members of the polity.

Keywords:   subversion, front line, pubic services, governmentality, public officials

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