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The Politics of the Public Encounter (2022)

(Publisher : Edward Elgar)

Author(s) : Peter Hupe

After university and military service, Peter Hupe chose a career as a policymaker in the Dutch national civil service. There he became socialized in the art and craft of policy formation and also discovered the relevance of policy implementation. He made that choice for public service, having a master’s degree in Political Science (cum laude, Free University Amsterdam) and before obtaining a doctorate at Leiden University. At Erasmus University Rotterdam he taught and undertook research in Public Administration for more than thirty years. From that institutional basis he had academic affiliations in Leiden, Leuven, London, Oxford and Potsdam. Retired from his position in Rotterdam, he currently is Visiting Professor at the Public Governance Institute, KU Leuven, Belgium. He is also Honorary Senior Research Fellow at the School of Social Policy, University of Birmingham, UK.


On the ground floor of government, citizens interact with teachers, medical staff, police officers and other professionals in public service. It is during these encounters that laws, public policies and professional guidelines gain further substance and form. In this insightful book, Peter Hupe brings together expert contributions from scholars across the globe to study the social mechanisms behind these public encounters.

Integrating empirical case studies with cutting-edge theory, The Politics of the Public Encounter investigates what happens when citizens meet the state. Adopting a realist perspective, contributors examine the dichotomy between what is expected to happen and what actually happens at the street level of government. Chapters explore topics such as rule application and individual agency, the relationship between discretion and accountability, the consequences of digitalization and citizens’ impression management. Hupe concludes with a reflective essay and gives an account of what has been left aside, advancing a clear agenda for future research into the relationship between citizen and state.

Advanced students and scholars of law, political science, public administration, sociology and philosophy interested in the mechanisms behind the citizen/state encounter will benefit from the book’s multi-disciplinary approach. Its realist insights will also be an essential reference point for public service professionals.

Table of contents

1 The public encounter as object of scholarly inquiry 2
Peter Hupe
2 The politics of the public encounter 19
Peter Hupe

3 The politics of street-level bureaucracy 40
B. Guy Peters
4 The public encounter and the role of citizens 57
Carola van Eijk and Trui Steen
5 Discretion and accountability: notes on perspective and avoidance 78
Keith Hawkins

6 Nobody’s agent: discretion as individualistic accountability 107
Nadine Raaphorst, Peter Hupe and Maaike Breedveld
7 Behind public encounters: uncertainty absorption in
asylum decisions 126
Tone Liodden
8 Professional routines in and around public encounters 149
Mirko Noordegraaf and Marlot Kuiper
9 Tensions within the public encounter: balancing
individual and population health risks 170
Matthew McKenna and Nicola Gale
10 Public encounters and the role of citizens’ impression
management 189
Lieke Oldenhof and Eline Linthorst

11 Going viral: public encounters and digitalization 211
Peter Hupe
12 The public encounter as object of delegation 235
Federica Infantino
13 Reform and the inspection encounter: how micro-practices
compromise meso-policies 251
Peter Mascini and Karin van Wingerde
14 Inspection encounters during a crisis: Suppositions from
the Covid-19 pandemic 270
Kim Loyens and Carina Schott
15 Public encounters and public achievements 289
Peter Hupe

16 Modern citizenship as civil disobedience 3.0 316
Gijs van Oenen
17 The public encounter and the ethics of public office 333
Kirstine Zinck Pedersen

18 The state of the citizen 354
Peter Hupe

Bibliographic Information

The Politics of the Public Encounter, What Happens When Citizens Meet the State

Edited by Peter Hupe, Visiting Professor, KU Leuven Public Governance Institute, Belgium
Publication Date: November 2022 ISBN: 978 1 80088 932 3 Extent: c 398 pp


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