Glenn College Colloquium with Muhammad Azfar Nisar, Ph.D.
Insurgent citizens and populist bureaucrats: Private politics and citizen-administrator interaction.
Research on street-level bureaucrats has recently seen an increasing interest in citizen behavior and responses to frontline bureaucratic decision making. This line of inquiry, despite its utility, remains largely divorced from developments in the broader society which increasingly influence the citizen-administrator interactions in street-level bureaucracies. More specifically, the influence of private politics and increasing influence of social and new media on citizen behavior remains understudied in the scholarship on citizen-administrator interactions. Private politics, in the context of the citizen-administrator relation, is defined as different forms of political action by citizens or bureaucrats whereby they seek to pursue their interests outside the formal policy process. For example, instead of relying on policy feedback to the elected representatives or relying on their voting behavior, citizens instead rely on political tactics aimed at direct targeting of negotiation with bureaucrats controlling access to state services through social media platforms. On the bureaucratic side, this form of politics includes strategic maneuvering by street-level bureaucrats to pre-empt, contest, and negotiate private political action by citizens through creation of populist personas and individualized branding maneuvers on public and professional platforms. We also discuss key social, political, technological and legal antecedents of private politics that have spurred a gradual rise in this new form of political action. We argue that private politics may become a distinguishing feature of the citizen-state relations of this era and discuss its implications for governance.
Muhammad Azfar Nisar is an Associate Professor of Public Policy & Administration at Lahore University of Management Sciences. His research focuses on issues related to policy implementation, administrative burden, decolonization of governance, and gender identity and has been published in top public administration journals. His first book Governing Thirdness was recently published by Cambridge University Press. He also serves on the Editorial Board of multiple top public management journals and is currently an Associate Editor of Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. Dr. Nisar obtained his PhD in Public Administration and Policy from Arizona State University, USA in 2016. His doctoral dissertation was awarded the Best Dissertation Award by the Public and Non-Profit Division of the Academy of Management. His prior education includes, a Master of Public Policy and an MA in International Area Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, an MA in Economics from the University of the Punjab, and a degree in medicine from King Edward Medical College, Lahore. Prior to joining academia, he was an officer in the civil service of Pakistan where, as a member of the Pakistan Administrative Service, he served in multiple administrative positions in different parts of the country.
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