Nudging Leviathan, Protecting Demos: A Comparative Sociology of Public Administration and Expertise in The Nordics

Jakob Laage-Thomsen

Publikation: Bog/antologi/afhandling/rapportPh.d.-afhandling

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This thesis investigates how interactions between public administrative systems and systems of professions and expertise shape regulatory governance. These interactions are investigated through comparative studies of two ’jurisdictional’ arenas, organized around behavioral change (of the public) and public health security. These represent forefronts in research and public policy interventions and reveal the moral stakes involved in the science-political-administrative nexus. In the arena of behavioral change, ‘Behavioral Insights’ (BI) has proven an influential approach on how to understand and nudge citizen behavior, while, in the arena of public health security (PHS), ‘All-Hazards Security’ has evolved as a dominant but contested frame for understanding how best to protect society from the effects of unpredictable health events such as pandemics. These arenas are investigated and compared through four papers.
Empirically, the thesis relies on interviews and surveys with civil servants, academics and consultants in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden in combination with historical and policy mapping methods. The first paper investigates the role of civil servants vis-à-vis external actors in establishing new expertise in the public sector by comparing the use of BI by four Danish governmental agencies since 2010. The second paper compares the process of establishing BI across public administration and expert ecologies in Sweden, Norway and Denmark since 2010. The third paper investigates how the beliefs of experts across academia, public administration and expert organizations influence policy preferences and responses by focusing on the organization of PHS and policy responses during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. The fourth paper investigates how the authority of public agencies depend on developments in the expert system by comparing changes to public health agencies’ authority on the issue of PHS from 2001 to 2021.
The papers show how professional projects travel from origins in the expert system to impinge on bureaucratic expertise, but that such travels depend on strategic actors building alliances and connections, as well as opportunity structures within the politico-administrative system. Professional projects empower different occupational groups and are a crucial source of technical and moral authority in public administration. They matter because expertise, conceptualized as professionally constructed sets of diagnosis, inference, and treatment, entail different visions of the common good and what the interests of citizens are. This has important implications for how det politisk-administrative system. Professionelle projekter styrker forskellige faggrupper på bekostning af hinanden, og er en afgørende kilde til teknisk og moralsk autoritet i den offentlig forvaltning. De betyder noget, fordi ’ekspertise’, forstået som professionelt konstruerede sæt af diagnose, inferens og behandling, indebærer forskellige visioner om, hvem borgeren er. Dette har konsekvenser for hvordan vi forstår udviklingen af den offentlige forvaltning; har vi at gøre med en ’Nudgende Leviatan’ eller en ’Beskyttende Demos’?
Det der mere generelt er på spil i disse processer er; hvem der har autoritet, hvordan denne autoritet er legitimeret, og hvad der driver forandringer i autoritet på et meso-niveau på tværs af det politisk-administrative system. Ved at forbinde litteraturer indenfor offentlig administration og professions- og ekspertisesociologien giver afhandlingen nye værktøjer og koncepter til at studere og sammenligne ekspertautoritet i offentlig administration.
ForlagCopenhagen Business School [Phd]
Antal sider208
ISBN (Trykt)9788775681051
ISBN (Elektronisk)9788775681068
StatusUdgivet - 2022
NavnPhD Series