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Open Access research with a European policy impact...

The Strathprints institutional repository is a digital archive of University of Strathclyde's Open Access research outputs. Strathprints provides access to thousands of Open Access research papers by Strathclyde researchers, including by researchers from the European Policies Research Centre (EPRC).

EPRC is a leading institute in Europe for comparative research on public policy, with a particular focus on regional development policies. Spanning 30 European countries, EPRC research programmes have a strong emphasis on applied research and knowledge exchange, including the provision of policy advice to EU institutions and national and sub-national government authorities throughout Europe.

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Street-level bureaucracy, interprofessional relations, and coping mechanisms : a study of criminal justice social workers in the sentencing process

Halliday, Simon and Burns, Nicola and Hutton, Neil and McNeill, Fergus and Tata, Cyrus (2009) Street-level bureaucracy, interprofessional relations, and coping mechanisms : a study of criminal justice social workers in the sentencing process. Law and Policy, 31 (4). pp. 405-428. ISSN 0265-8240

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Abstract

This article builds on the work of Michael Lipsky and develops an argument about the significance of interprofessional working for street-level bureaucracy. It presents an ethnographic analysis of criminal justice social workers writing presentence reports for the Scottish courts. Social workers' report writing for judges brought into relief issues of relative professional status. Social workers were uncertain of their place within the legal domain and concerned about their credibility as criminal justice professionals. Reports were written, in part at least, as a way of seeking esteem and credibility in the eyes of judges-a motivation that undermined the policy objectives of social enquiry in sentencing. Applying the conceptual tools of Bourdieu to our findings, we argue that street-level bureaucrats who have to work across bureaucratic "fields" may find, or fear, that the cultural and symbolic "capital" they retained within their own field is undervalued in the symbolic economy of new fields, putting them in a position of relative inferiority. This issue of relative professional status, and how officials respond to it, is significant for our understanding of street-level bureaucracy.