CEPDISC Seminar with Asmus Leth Olsen
“Citizens' Discrimination against the State”.
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Speaker: Asmus Leth Olsen, Professor (wsr), Deputy Head of Department, Department of Political Science, University of Copenhagen
Title: “Citizens' Discrimination against the State”
Abstract: “There is vast evidence, across a variety of domains, that ethnic, racial or religious minorities face discrimination in their interaction with the state. These studies seriously question the normative and legal expectation of equal treatment before the law which is inherent in a Weberian view of bureaucracy. However, recent reform trends also allow for discrimination to run the other way: from citizen to state and not just from the state against citizen. Over the past decades and across welfare regimes, choice reforms have emphasized citizens' right to choose and curate their own consumption of public services. Inadvertently, the introduction of choice also opens the door for potential discriminatory preferences as it allows citizens to choose a provider with a certain ethnic, racial or religious background. This unintended consequence is raised in prominence as the increased ethnic and racial diversity in mature welfare states also imply that minorities enter the public sector workforce. It thereby becomes more likely that citizens will experience public services from a street-level bureaucrat with a different ethnic, racial or religious background than their own. With choice of delivery they have the option to avoid public services delivered by an out-group. We present a number of results on citizen discrimination against street-level bureaucrats as they pick and choose public services.”
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