Management Skills Assignments
Article: “Street-Level Bureaucracy: The Critical Role of Street-Level Bureaucrats” (pp. 401-408)
Author: Michael Lipsky
Date of Article: May 25, 1980
Link to Article: (place link here)
“Street-Level Bureaucracy: The Critical Role of Street-Level Bureaucrats” examines the role of front-line public employees in the bureaucracy. Street-level bureaucrats are those individuals who interact directly with citizens. There are many street-level bureaucrats in public service agencies such as welfare offices. In fact, it seems that the poorer people are, the more street-level bureaucrats affect them. Since street-level bureaucrats have such a great deal of interaction with the public, they are often the focus of public controversy. Their decisions appear to be very personal, as they are directed toward people and their attitudes are obvious. Because of this personalization of bureaucracy, street-level bureaucrats also provide hope for citizens to receive fair and effective treatment, as citizens believe they can reason with these individuals, even if the rest of the bureaucracy is out of reach. In reality, street-level bureaucrats are limited to how responsive they may be. Protocol restricts their abilities to treat things on a case-by-case basis.
- Street-level bureaucrats cause a great deal of public controversy due to debates over their scope and function and the impact they have on people’s lives.
- Street-level bureaucrats, such as police officers, teachers, and health workers are familiar to the people they serve, but not necessarily as accountable as people would like them to be.
- Street-level bureaucracies directly affect people and change their lives. This provides people with hope that these bureaucrats will help them on an individual basis.
- Street-level bureaucrats provide a “visible, accessible, and blamable, collective target.”
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