Living Reference Work Entry

Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy, and Governance

pp 1-6

Date: Latest Version

Politics and Bureaucracy

Synonyms

Bureaucratic politics

Definition

Politics and bureaucracy refers to the role that government bureaucracies play in making policy or resolving political conflicts.

Introduction

Governments make important determinations about how social resources are to be distributed and how public justice is to be dispensed. While many key governmental decisions are made by traditional political actors – such as presidents, legislatures, and courts – implementation of many policies is carried out by bureaucracies. Implementing policy is often a complicated task, and many government bureaucrats have substantial discretion over implementation decisions, including in policy areas that lack political consensus. As such, bureaucracies are an important actor to examine when considering how political systems operate. Although bureaucrats often play a key role in implementing policy, they may not enjoy the same level of legitimacy as other political actors, particularly in the context of a democracy where ...

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