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State-agents Vs. Citizen-agents: How Parental Values And Socioeconomic Backgrounds Impact The Construction Of Work Related Identities In Street-level Bureacracy

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State-agents Vs. Citizen-agents: How Parental Values And Socioeconomic Backgrounds Impact The Construction Of Work Related Identities In Street-level Bureacracy

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Title: State-agents Vs. Citizen-agents: How Parental Values And Socioeconomic Backgrounds Impact The Construction Of Work Related Identities In Street-level Bureacracy
Author: Booher, Jesse R.
Abstract: Scholarship on street-level policy implementation identifies two dominant approaches street-level bureaucrats use to describe their work: the "state-agent" and "citizen-agent" narratives. The former focuses on how street-level bureaucrats implement law and the latter on how bureaucrats interact with clients. To this point, scholarship only recognizes the above narratives as descriptors. I hypothesize that street-level bureaucrats actively construct identities as state-agents or citizen-agents depending on their backgrounds. Using semi-structured interviews with street-level bureaucrats in North Texas, this exploratory study finds that relationships exist between participants' socioeconomic background as children, the values stressed by their parents, and the narrative style they use to describe their work. Findings indicate that persons from lower and upper income backgrounds use the citizen-agent narrative. Persons from middle and working class backgrounds use the state-agent narrative. Participants from authoritarian backgrounds were more likely to use the state-agent narrative, while participants from permissive backgrounds used the citizen-agent narrative. The results offer a more nuanced understanding of how street-level bureaucrats view their role as policy deliverers.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10106/6216
Date: 2011-10-11

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