W052
World(s) of bureaucrats

Convenors:
Karin Geuijen (Utrecht University/VU University Amsterdam)
Renita Thedvall (Stockholm University)
Chair:
Geuijen/Thedvall
Discussant:
Cris Shore
Format:
Workshops
Location:
116
Start time:
27 August, 2008 at 9:00
Session slots:
3

Short abstract:

Bureaucrats are among the most ubiquitous and important players in national and inter/transnational organisations. Despite their importance relatively little is known about who they are and what they do. This workshop invites a wide range of papers that shed light on these cultures of bureaucracy.

Long abstract:

Bureaucrats working within various organisations, such as national governments, the European Union (EU), the World Bank and the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) are among the most ubiquitous and important players in global governance. Within, for example, the formal EU structures, they are involved in a myriad of expert groups, working parties and committees. In these various groups, their roles vary from preparing decisions and giving advice to approving proposals on behalf of their political superiors and implementing decisions. In the popular view, bureaucrats are often seen as the epitome of what Herzfeld (1992: 71) identifies as the stereotype of a bureaucrat, namely a rigid, inflexible, boring person working for his bureau rather than its clients or society at large. However, the bureaucratic stereotype only goes so far in describing the real world of bureaucrats in policymaking processes. Overwhelmingly, bureaucratic players in policy processes are, of necessity, flexible people. They do not just apply rules. They take part in complex policymaking and organisational games. Despite the importance of bureaucrats, relatively little is known about who they are and what they do. Their role in the process tends to remain black boxed. This workshop invites a wide range of papers that shed light on these cultures of bureaucracy. Who are these people? What do they do? How does power enter into their work? What challenges/opportunities do their networks pose? How does their work contribute to, for example, Europeanisation processes?