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Nanna Mik-Meyer

8 The power of bureaucracy, market and ­psychology in citizen–staff encounters Introduction This chapter addresses how the principles of bureaucracy, values of the market and norms from psychology influence welfare encounters in practice. As discussed, sociologists have for many years shown great interest in the ways in which categorisation practices among practitioners produce institutional identities, such as ‘the afflicted’, ‘the deadlocked’ and ‘the flexible’ (Gubrium and Holstein 2001; Mik-Meyer 2004). The goal of this research has been to examine how these

in The power of citizens and professionals in welfare encounters
The influence of bureaucracy, market and psychology

Since the 1990s, European welfare states have undergone substantial changes regarding their objectives, areas of intervention and instruments of use. There has been an increasing move towards the prioritisation of the involvement of citizens and the participation of civil society. This book focuses on the altered (powerful) conditions for encounters between citizens and welfare workers. It uses the concept of soft power, which, inter alia, allows for the investigations of the ways in which individuals manipulate each other in an effort to achieve their desired goals. The first part of the book discusses extracts from state-of-the-art research on professions and expertise, and the perception of power that guides the analyses. It also discusses the overall theoretical positioning when analysing encounters between welfare workers and citizens as co-productive and interactionist. The second part presents analyses to show how a bureaucratic context affects the encounter between administrators and clients, and how a market context affects the encounter between service providers and consumers/customers. The analysis of how a psychology-inspired context affects the encounter between coaches and coaches is also provided. All three contexts are to be perceived as Weberian ideal types, in other words, theoretical constructs based on observations of the real world. The concluding part of the book emphasises on the role of the principles of the bureaucracy, the norms from psychology, and the values of the market in the welfare encounter. Key points of the book are summarised in the conclusion.

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Nanna Mik-Meyer

of the bureaucracy are an important context for the ­encounter between welfare workers and citizens, as citizen–staff encounters per definition are regulated by legislation and local principles related to the bureaucracy. Therefore, if one assumes that the commitment to rule-­ abiding conduct, legal certainty and so on does not govern these interactions, then one is very much mistaken, as convincingly shown in the classic work of Lipsky (2010) and in the large amount of research conducted by his followers up until this day. This research has persuasively shown that

in The power of citizens and professionals in welfare encounters