Prolegomena to a caring bureaucracy

European Journal of Women's Studies 24 (3):202-217 (2017)
  Copy   BIBTEX


Bureaucracy has had few admirers, as a quick perusal of 20th-century political and social theory readily indicates. In recent years, several feminist theorists have also joined this vociferous anti-bureaucracy chorus, denouncing bureaucracy’s excessively hierarchical, impersonal, cold and controlling nature. The goal of this article is to review these charges and to show why the term ‘caring bureaucracy’ is not an oxymoron. In the first two sections, the author considers the various reasons why bureaucratic structures are said to be bad both for the people who work in them and for those who deal with them. The author proposes to discuss these charges in light of some research on feminist organizations and street-level bureaucracy. The intention is not to offer a paean to street-level discretion or to the claims of ‘the heart’ in public service; it is, rather, to underscore at once the beauty and the danger of discretion. It is also noted that feminist theorists ought to be cautious when they call for ‘flattened hierarchies’ and for fewer rules in large institutions – for these might work against the best interests of women. The last part of the article offers the outline of a caring bureaucracy and suggests avenues to be explored in future care ethics research.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,479

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Education and Bureaucracy.Robert Boyd Skipper - 2018 - International Journal of Applied Philosophy 32 (1):57-76.
British Conservatism and Bureaucracy.J. Greenaway - 1992 - History of Political Thought 13 (1):129.
Research ethics review and the bureaucracy.Paul M. McNeill - 2002 - Monash Bioethics Review 21 (3):S72-S73.
Is Bureaucracy Compatible with Democracy?Sandy Koll - 2009 - South African Journal of Philosophy 28 (2):134-145.
Dismantling Democratic States. [REVIEW]James Mahon - 2005 - The Review of Politics 67:153-155.
Bureaucracy and Culture: A Conference Report.Victoria F. MacDonald - 1985 - Telos: Critical Theory of the Contemporary 1985 (64):105-116.


Added to PP

2 (#1,403,421)

6 months
1 (#455,463)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?