NSCPHD1246 Bureaucratic Encounters –
 Front Line and District Civil Service and Development

Volume 2014/2015
Applied Economics (AECON)

The state and its bureaucrats in developing societies have a bad name. They are often, quite perfunctorily, dismissed as dysfunctional, weak, or failed. Often labels such as ‘corruption’ essentialize and homogenize an immense variation of practices. Public service is often inadequate, often it departs from formal rules, often it harbours rent- seekers, and there are countless examples of in-just, in-equitable and inefficient operations. Yet, bureaucracies also deliver some service, improvise around impossible rules, demonstrate dedication and operate despite poor resources. It takes very little to see that states and bureaucracies in developing societies do not look like the imagined ideals of developed states. In fact, no states look like the ideal when closely inspected, and rather than measuring the distance from a normative ideal, it is important to investigate how states and bureaucracies actually work. Recent research that focuses on actual bureaucratic practices reveal that variations between and within countries are considerable, and generally many competing interests and logics are at play.

The population generally ‘meets the state’ in the form of local and district bureaucracies. Policies, reforms, and the everyday delivery of education, health, extension, and policing manifest themselves at the local level. And taxation is often a very tangible encounter with public authority. It is therefore important to develop analytical concepts and research methods that will allow a systematic inquiry into the bureaucratic encounter at the local and district levels.

This PhD course responds to a growing demand for guidance and feedback from PhD students who are developing their thesis within this field of research. We want to bring together PhD students from a number of disciplines in social sciences with some of the protagonists of the current debate on how ‘states work’ in the encounter between public servants and the citizens. Through lectures by leading researchers in this field and the in-depth discussion of PhD student’s research papers, the PhD course provides a key opportunity for PhD students to present and discuss their work with senior researchers in the field.

Learning Outcome

The learning objectives of the course are:

  • That participants are knowledgeable about major contributions to the study of bureaucracies, i.e. understand differences and similarities in their scope, methodological approach, and findings
  • That participants are able to critically assess their own and others’ work on bureaucracies and deliver constructive criticism to their peers

Letters of acceptance, a full programme for the course, and the course readings will be emailed to participants.

There will be daily lectures by senior experts and parallel working group sessions with in-depth discussions of the participants’ research papers by the senior experts. A detailed program will be communicated shortly after approval of your application.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 20
  • Preparation
  • 70
  • Project work
  • 50
  • Total
  • 140
Type of assessment
Written assignment under invigilation
Course participation under invigilation
Participants must submit a research paper and fully participate in the course to earn a course certificate.
All aids allowed
Censorship form
No external censorship