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Social Construction of Public Administration, The

Interpretive and Critical Perspectives

Jong S. Jun, Frank P. Sherwood

Publication Year: 2006

In this conceptual guided tour of contemporary public administration, Jong S. Jun challenges the limitations of the discipline which, he argues, make it inadequate for understanding today’s complex human phenomena. Drawing on examples and case studies from both Eastern and Western countries, he emphasizes critical and interpretive perspectives as a counterforce to the instrumental-technical rationality that reduces the field to structural and functionalist views of management. He also emphasizes the idea of democratic social construction to transcend the field’s reliance on conventional pluralist politics. Jun stresses that public administrators and institutions must create opportunities for sharing and learning among organizational members and must facilitate interactive processes between public administrators and citizens so that the latter can voice their problems and opinions. The future role of public administrators will be to transcend the limitations of the management and governing of modern public administration and to explore ways of constructing socially meaningful alternatives through communicative action and the participation of citizens.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Public Administration (discontinued)

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vii-ix

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pp. xi-xix

The first priority in this introduction is to ensure that readers of this book are fully aware of the credentials of its author, Jong S. Jun. ...

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pp. xxi-xxiv

Countries in the East and West are in the midst of a great transformation: the democratization of the governing process. The Western countries, the United States in particular, are working to renew democratic ideals and practices by strengthening the process of deliberative democracy. ...

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CHAPTER 1: Introduction

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pp. 1-20

We live in an “age of paradox,” in which our good intentions to progress and our efforts to improve the quality of life produce unintended consequences and often contradictory results (Handy, 1994). This paradox results when policy makers put forth a strong argument for pursuing one policy and neglecting another, less pressing, one, such...

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CHAPTER 2: The Changing Context of Public Administration

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pp. 21-42

The primary objective of this chapter is to briefly explore the successes and the failures of public administration in the twentieth century and their lessons for the new century. The conditions of political, socioeconomic, and cultural contexts have greatly contributed to the growth of public institutions and the scope of public policies. ...

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CHAPTER 3: The Social Constructionist Approach

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pp. 43-72

In a public administration that places much emphasis on a positivistic, empirical, and bureaucratic culture, only that which provides practical results and serves management interests is taken seriously. As practicality becomes an important measure, theoretical approaches and ideas are judged in terms of their applicability to...

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CHAPTER 4: Public Administration as Social Design

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pp. 73-99

Traditionally, public administration has been considered to be either a science or an art, and these metaphors have substantially affected theory and practice in this field. When it is seen as a science, public administration uses the scientific method and quantitative information; when it is seen as an art, it focuses on functional coordination, leadership...

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CHAPTER 5: Social Design in Practice

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pp. 101-121

Developments in public administration that broaden approaches to problem solving, take greater account of relevant variables in policy making, and challenge public administrators and citizens in positive ways offer many possibilities for strengthening both theory and practice in this field. ...

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CHAPTER 6: Understanding Action, Praxis, and Change

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pp. 123-145

Changing an organization is one of the most difficult endeavors because not only does change require resources, but, most important, it requires that people share knowledge, learn, and make a commitment to their plans. ...

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CHAPTER 7: The Self in Social Construction

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pp. 147-176

The social construction of public administration must include a clear consideration of the nature of the individual within social and cultural contexts. From a positivist (functionalist) perspective, an organization is seen as an assembly of autonomous individuals working together foreconomic gain. ...

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CHAPTER 8: The Social Construction of Ethical Responsibility

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pp. 177-206

Many administrative responsibilities with which the public administrator is charged are fundamentally ethical in context. In public administration, however, there is an increasing tendency to assume that the “reality” of the administrative context renders ethical and moral considerations old-fashioned, even ludicrous. ...

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CHAPTER 9: Civil Society, Governance, and Its Potential

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pp. 207-233

Public administration exists in the context of the social world: it is not an isolated entity in society. Government develops policies and administration to meet the challenges of society, but its activities are also greatly influenced by global politics and issues. ...

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CHAPTER 10: Concluding Thoughts

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pp. 235-258

The past century has seen great changes in the development of the governing capability of industrializing and postindustrial countries, such as strong government, management capability, professionalization of public service, scientific and rational ways of designing policies and activities, and coping with diverse political and social conditions. ...


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pp. 259-266


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pp. 267-291

INDEX [Includes Back Cover]

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pp. 293-303

E-ISBN-13: 9780791481899
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791467251
Print-ISBN-10: 0791467252

Page Count: 326
Illustrations: 7 tables
Publication Year: 2006

Series Title: SUNY series in Public Administration (discontinued)