Cover: When the State Meets the Street: Public Service and Moral Agency, from Harvard University PressCover: When the State Meets the Street in HARDCOVER

When the State Meets the Street

Public Service and Moral Agency

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Product Details

HARDCOVER

$35.00 • £25.95 • €31.50

ISBN 9780674545540

Publication: September 2017

Academic Trade

320 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

1 halftone, 3 line illustrations, 2 tables

Belknap Press

World

When the State Meets the Street reads as one might imagine a collaboration between Bernard Williams, Richard Sennett and James Scott could turn out. If there can be such a thing as an instant classic, this book is one.—David Owen, University of Southampton

In this refreshing study, Zacka finds in the commonplace decision-making of street level bureaucrats an implicit but coherent moral structure. When citizens experience the state through street-level encounters, the author shows, they are subject to moral reasoning no less than when elected officials expand or contract social welfare policies, or bring a nation to war.—Michael Lipsky, author of Street-Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Services

Beautifully written, tightly argued, and totally original.—Michael Piore, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Since Michael Lipsky coined the term in 1969, street-level bureaucracy has developed into a scholarly theme of its own. Nevertheless, the normative dimensions of the work done in this segment of government bureaucracy have remained almost entirely in the shadow so far. Filling this lacuna the book is an absolute must-read.—Peter Hupe, Public Administration

In his groundbreaking book When the State Meets the Street: Public Service and Moral Agency, Bernardo Zacka illustrates a new methodological approach for political theory, opens up avenues of normative research on the neglected topic of bureaucracy and bureaucrats and overturns an intellectually dubious, but nonetheless dominant, model of the state… Zacka’s discussion is subtle and thoughtful and opens many avenues for political and moral theorists to explore.—Alex Sager, LSE Review of Books

Zacka persuasively argues that street-level bureaucrats are, in fact, moral agents ‘vested with a considerable margin of discretion.’ More importantly, he makes a compelling case for the normative desirability of that discretionary power… The book draws on a broad array of literatures, from other qualitative work on bureaucracies to psychology, sociology, and normative political philosophy, providing Zacka with an astounding and productive array of interlocutors… Zacka’s remarkable book opens up many intriguing questions and will hopefully be one of many future studies that combine the virtues of an ethnographic approach and normative political theory.—Yuna Blajer de la Garza, Contemporary Political Theory

An examination of street level bureaucracy rooted in anthropological fieldwork, but with the philosopher’s toolkit dexterously deployed, it announces [Zacka] as a major new voice.—Paul Sagar, Political Quarterly

One emerges from this insightful book with a considerable measure of respect for bureaucrats… Studying their experience as well as their behavior, is indeed, ‘an experiment in living,’ as well as a test of our own values and vision. It is, or should be, humbling.—Glenn C. Altschuler, Psychology Today

Zacka’s application of normative theory to state-level bureaucrats and his efforts at injecting ethnographically informed descriptive evidence into political theory are to be applauded and should represent a vanguard in political theory.—Timothy Werner, Administrative Science Quarterly

This book thereby not only offers a valuable contribution to the street-level bureaucracy literature, but is also an essential read for political theorists interested in a bottom-up account of the state.—Nadine Raaphorst, Acta Polit

When the State Meets the Street is both a strikingly original work and a penetrating analysis of governmental decision-making. Not only is the book a sophisticated deconstruction of the administrative state, it also encourages liberty-minded readers to expand their intellectual horizons beyond the traditional citizen–government relationship.—John Ehrett, The University Bookman