Call for papers Special Issue on The Street-Level Bureaucracy

The Special Issue opens the street-level debate, traditionally developed in Northern Europe and in the United States of America to understudied contexts, reasoning on the potentialities and challenges of this approach to understand the provision of public services in contexts where welfare systems are fragmented and leave broad room for maneuver and action to frontline workers (Barberis, Paraciani, and Saruis 2019). The Street-Level Bureaucracy (SLB) theoretical framework that has been introduced by Michael Lipsky (1980) focuses on the role of frontline workers in delivering public services. This strand of studies has had considerable recognition from the scientific community, especially in Northern Europe and in the United States of America.

First, we want to promote SLB theory adoption in countries with very different characteristics from those in which SLB theory was born and developed. A street-level perspective enables the analysis to highlight macro-consequences and tendencies of welfare states from the bottom-up, which do not automatically fit into classical categorisations (Esping-Andersen 1990). Secondly, our goal is to develop new analytical tools relevant for the whole discipline by setting the scene for SLB theory in the Mediterranean countries, Eastern Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa. This could contribute to the theoretical and empirical advancement of the field.

List of topic areas

We welcome papers that adopt the SLB theory to study street-level organizations in different Souths by focusing on:

  • the role of the context in affecting street-level bureaucrats’ work practices and possibilities;
  • service delivery from a comparative perspective to problematize the use of SLB theory analytical categories and methodological challenges;
  • the characteristics assumed by the bureaucratic encounter in contexts where the distrust in public institutions is high, and clients often takes public service malfunction for granted;
  • how frontline workers contribute to realize public goals and programs and their role to fill regulatory gaps or resource scarcity.

Both theoretical and empirical contributions are welcomed.

Submissions Information

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Registration and access are available at:

Closing date for abstract submission: 15/12/2022

Email for submissions:  ;;

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