Street-level bureaucrats in a relational state: The case of Bougainville

Gordon Peake, Miranda Forsyth

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    We explore how street‐level bureaucrats (SLBs) as ‘agents of the state’ operate in circumstances where there is very little state, at least as state form is understood in the context in which street‐level bureaucracy theorising has developed. Using the example of post‐conflict Bougainville, we suggest SLBs actually construct the state through their wide‐flung and deep networks of relationality. We propose that SLBs in the majority world may be helpfully understood through utilising two different lenses of the state, both of which tell an accurate but only partial story. The first lens is the edifice of the Weberian or Bureaucratic state and the second lens is that we term the Relational state. We illustrate how these two lenses together provide a more complete understanding and analytical insights into the role of SLBs through drawing upon our empirical data.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)12-21
    JournalPublic Administration and Development
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2021


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