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Street-level bureaucracy and social inequality: reflections from a comparison between Brazil and Denmark

Grant number: 19/24495-5
Support type:Regular Research Grants
Duration: May 01, 2021 - April 30, 2023
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Political Science - Public Policies
Principal researcher:Gabriela Spanghero Lotta
Grantee:Gabriela Spanghero Lotta
Home Institution: Escola de Administração de Empresas (EAESP). Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Assoc. researchers:Gabriela Thomazinho Clementino Sampaio ; Marie Oestergaard Moeller


Abstract: In terms of understanding and explaining how social inequality influence how people are being met and treated by the state and the public sector, street-level bureaucracy theory concerns the formal distribution of power within the politico-administrative system and assumes a structural similarity between public agencies and across public sectors and countries when providing public service to citizens and uphold an ideal of impartial and fair treatment. Also, the idea of policy transfer is pervasive among policy-makers, public leaders and in much public administration research. This project's claim is that the meaning of social inequality is associated to the conditions governments' have to give and organize impartial and fair treatment within street-level bureaucracy. This needs to be explained both by similar organizational conditions and by the larger social context in which they are nested. The project proposes to explore this issue by looking at the way social-spatial context of street-level worker encounters are inseparable from the macro contexts such as income distribution. It will provide a qualitative experimental and focused ethnographic study of equivalent street-level tasks across theoretically relevant social, physical, and regulative settings. Its overall research question is: How and why does the social-spatial context of street-level bureaucracy matter for the way workers use their autonomy to categorize and interact with citizens? More specifically: how do street-level bureaucrats, with different individual characteristics, working in different social-spatial contexts, deal with a similar task? This study explores what this means in practice in two similar policy areas in two very different countries in terms of social inequality and income distribution. The areas are childcare provision for 4-year olds and the support of new-born children. The countries are Brazil (high-income inequality) and Denmark (low income inequality). (AU)

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Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
KRIEGER, MORGANA G. MARTINS; WENHAM, CLARE; NACIF PIMENTA, DENISE; NKYA, THERESIA E.; SCHALL, BRUNAH; NUNES, ANA CAROLINA; DE MENEZES, ANA; LOTTA, GABRIELA. How do community health workers institutionalise: An analysis of Brazil's CHW programme. GLOBAL PUBLIC HEALTH, JUN 2021. Web of Science Citations: 0.

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