From Groups to Individuals? The Making of Target Publics in the French Administration of Low-Rent Housing

Chapter
Part of the Logic, Argumentation & Reasoning book series (LARI, volume 17)

Abstract

Recent transformations of public policies have led to the emergence of new coordination measures for local governments and to changes in the role of street-level bureaucrats. Previous researches highlight a trend toward individualization of social policies and ever-greater autonomy of bureaucrats. On the basis of an ethnographic study conducted in low-rent housing organizations in two French cities, this chapter provides a critical discussion of the general hypothesis of social policies’ individualization. Through extensive interviews and direct observations of agents at work, it looks into the way target publics are defined and identified in practice. It considers the processes of qualification and categorization according to which frontline workers make their selection, questioning boundaries that are drawn by the administration between the insiders and the outsiders of social housing. This chapter first analyses how housing authorities elaborate rules to deal with legal uncertainties. It also shows how these categories are taken up and actualized by bureaucrats in their everyday practices. More broadly, it sheds light on regularly occurring selection mechanisms which led to a deeper understanding of individualization’s process.

Keywords

Social landlords Street level bureaucracy Discretionary power Categorization Individualization 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sciences Po Paris – CEEParisFrance

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