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Acceptance of Public Administration: An Analysis of the Perception of Citizens Towards Public Administration

Citizenship
Public Administration
Qualitative Comparative Analysis
Daniela Strüngmann
University of Duisburg-Essen
Daniela Strüngmann
University of Duisburg-Essen

Abstract

Whenever the citizen come into direct contact with the political-administrative system, then generally more often with the administrative part of the system than with the political institutions and actors. Public administration in its role as an instance of implementation makes democracy and politics tangible for the citizens. At the same time the image of the public administration is negative ever since, and the stereotypes of public administration which negatively accentuate and exaggerate its characteristics as typical are part of the collective mind in the western world. Therefore, the question that arises is, if the negative image has any effect on the acceptance of public administration by the individual citizen respectively the legitimacy of the public administration in our society? This research question will be answered on the basis of a qualitative content analysis supplemented by a Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA) of data collected by interviewing citizens. I will argue that an important result of my empirical work is twofold: Citizens are very well aware of the negative image and the widely known stereotypes of bureaucratic administration. However, despite this, public administration is not perceived as negative if other information is strong enough to outweigh the negative stereotypes. This counterbalancing informatory input can be positive experiences with responsive civil servants, positive attitudes towards administration in the close social environment or the conviction that the public administration supplies an indispensable contribution to the society. If this counterbalancing input is strong enough, it can support a social climate of acceptance towards public administration.