A bottom-up view of the state

An endless wait in a crowded room. The official’s impassive expression while handling a client in need. Exasperating and sometimes infuriating public service bureaucracies are things with which Bernardo Zacka ’05, a newly-appointed assistant professor of political science, is well acquainted. “These are episodes where you feel powerless, where the authority you’re dealing with doesn’t appear to be a person,” he says. “One’s impression is dealing with the rule of nobody. But even then of course, you are still dealing with someone.” What is it like to be that person, on the other side of the counter? And what are the moral and political challenges that one encounters when performing such a role? To find out, Zacka chose to immerse himself in the world of bureaucrats. For his doctoral research exploring the everyday moral lives of workers at an antipoverty agency, Zacka did not just observe and report. He joined as a Continue reading A bottom-up view of the state