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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences eTheses
Title: Confronting unemployment in a street-level bureaucracy: jobcentre staff and client perspectives
Author(s): Wright, Sharon Elizabeth
Supervisor(s): Erskine, Angus
McIntosh, Ian
Issue Date: 2003
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This thesis presents an account of the roles played by social actors in the implementation of unemployment policy in the UK. Lipsky’s (1980) theory of street-level bureaucracy has been adopted, updated to the contemporary context of the managerial state (Clarke & Newman, 1997) and developed in the specific case of the Jobcentre. The analysis is based on data collected during an ethnographic investigation of one case study Jobcentre office in Central Scotland. The methods consisted of six months of direct observation, interviews with 48 members of Jobcentre staff, semi-structured interviews with 35 users and analysis of notified vacancies and guidance documents. The argument is that front-line workers re-create policy as they implement it. They do so in reaction to a series of influences, constraints and incentives. Users therefore receive a service that is a modified version of the official policy. Users do not necessarily accept the policy that they are subjected to. They do not identify with the new managerialist notion of customer service because as benefit recipients they are denied purchasing power, choice and power. Unemployment policy is not delivered uniformly or unilaterally because front-line staff are active in developing work habits that influence the outcomes of policy. Policy is accomplished by staff in practice by categorising users into client types. This is significant because staff represent the state to the citizen in their interaction. Users are also active in accomplishing policy, whether they conform with, contest, negotiate or co-produce policy. Understanding what unemployment policy actually is, and what it means to people, depends on understanding these social processes by which policy emerges in practice.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Applied Social Science

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