It takes (at least) two to tango: Investigating interactional dynamics between clients and caseworkers in public encounters

Matthias Döring, Nicolas Drathschmidt, Stine Piilgaard Porner Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Public encounters are an essential element in citizen–state interactions. Yet, we know very little about the interactional dynamics between clients and street-level bureaucrats. By analyzing data from interviews and participatory observations of public encounters in a social security administration context, we propose a typology of public encounters based on clients' and employees' preparedness that affects the dynamics and outcomes of services. Encounters can either be characterized by “Conflict and Obstruction,” “Advocacy,” “Case Processing,” or “Agreement and Collaboration.” We conceptualize the relation between these types and how both clients and caseworkers transition between them. Additionally, the article's findings suggest that public encounters should not be observed as singular events. Rather, spillover effects between encounters and long-term multi-episode interactions with clients prove to be essential in understanding behavior on both sides through mutual learning.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPublic Administration Review
ISSN0033-3352
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

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