This chapter explores how street-level professionals can function as mediators between bureaucratic and tacit (Scott, 1998) knowledge in participatory planning processes. Lipsky’s classic study of street-level bureaucrats (1980) reveals how frontline workers are embedded in the logic of bureaucracy on the one hand and the messy reality of the street-level on the other. Street-level workers are required to translate the rational norms of bureaucracy – which are guided by accountability, quotas, and transparency – to the norms and practices of everyday life at the street-level – where they need experience, tacit knowledge, and improvisation. In Lipsky’s work, street-level bureaucrats are typically teachers, police officers, social workers, and court officials (Lipsky, 1980: 3). In this chapter, I propose to also understand policy makers and planners who have the responsibility to organize a deliberative or participatory process as street-level professionals. I use the term ‘professional’ to include the growing body of experts who, because of a growing demand for participatory planning, are in the unique position to bridge plans of the local government with plans of the community. Read the full chapter here
Published in Raco, M. and Savini, F. (eds) Planning and Knowledge: How New Forms of Technocracy Are Shaping Contemporary Cities. Policy Press, pp. 75 – 89.