The absurdity of bureaucracy offers a humorous ethnographic account of policy implementation set in contemporary Danish bureaucracy. Taking the reader deep into the hallways of governmental administration and municipal caseworkers' offices, the book sets out to explore what characterizes policy implementation as a mode of human agency. Using the notions of absurdity and sense-making as lenses through which to explore the dynamic relationship between a policy and its effects, the book reclaims 'implementation studies' for the qualitative sciences and emphasizes the existential dilemma that any policymaker and implementer must confront. Following step-by-step the planning and implementation of the randomized controlled trial, Active - Back Sooner, the book sets out to show that 'going wrong' is not a question of implementation failure but is in fact the only way in which implementation may happen. -- .
Nina Holm Vohnsen is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Aarhus University -- .
Series editor's preface Acknowledgements Reading guide Central people, documents, and organizations Prologue: Labor days Introduction: the absurdity of bureaucracy 1 Anticipations Portrait 1: "making a difference" Portrait 2: the perfect plan Analysis: a container of discrete agendas 2 Mutations Portrait 3: the trial mutates Portrait 4: satisfying needs Analysis: vectors of concern 3 Multiplications Portrait 5: the purpose multiplies Portrait 6: the productivity of controversy Analysis: absurdity is a perspective that appreciates the sum-total 4 The quest for meaning Portrait 7: "bending" the rules and agreements Portrait 8: the end of meaning Analysis: they rebel, they do not resist 5 How implementation works Epilogue: bureaucracy-choose your own adventure Appendix: data, position, method -- .