The Social Construction of Public Administration

Interpretive and Critical Perspectives

By Jong S. Jun
Foreword by Frank P. Sherwood

Subjects: Political Science
Series: SUNY series in Public Administration
Paperback : 9780791467268, 326 pages, June 2007
Hardcover : 9780791467251, 326 pages, July 2006

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Table of contents

Frank P. Sherwood

1. Introduction


The Limitations of Modern Public Administration
Social Construction in a Democratic Context
Dialectical Possibilities
Learning from a Cross-Cultural Perspective
The Orientation of this Book


2. The Changing Context of Public Administration


Unanticipated Consequences in the Twentieth Century
Lessons for the New Century
Reinterpreting the Meaning of Public Administration
Dialectic in Administrative Action


3. The Social Constructionist Approach


The Limitations of the Functionalist Perspective
The Interpretive Critical Theory, and Postmodern Perspectives
Theorizing the Social Constructionist Approach
Globalization as Social Construction


4. Public Administration as Social Design


The Use and Abuse of Metaphor
Design: A Basic Concept
Administrative Science, Art, and Social Design
The Modes of Administrative and Policy Design


5 Social Design in Practice


Coproduction and Community Policing
Bridging the Digital Divide in Silicon Valley
Helping Homelessness
Designing the Public Transit System
The Clinton Health Care Reform Plan: From Social Design to Incrementalism
The Limits of Social Design


6. Understanding Action, Praxis, and Change


The Dialectic of Organizational Action
Praxis and Change
The Praxis-Oriented Administrators
Changing Organizations and Action Research


7. The Self in Social Construction


Social Construction of the Self: Eastern and Western Views
The Self and Sociality: Western Views
Postmodern Views of the Self
Implications of Eastern and Western Views
The Self-Reflexive Individual in a Social Context
The Self and Bureaucracy


8. The Social Construction of Ethical Responsibility


The Ethical Dilemma of the Responsible Administrator
Constructing Ethics in Organizations
A Public Conception of Autonomy: Confucian and Western Views
Civic Virtue and the Public Good
Connecting Administrators and Citizens


9. Civil Society, Governance, and Its Potential


The Civil Society Triangle: A New Form of Governance
From Hierarchical Governing to Democratic Governance
NGOs as a Force for Social Change
A Case of Local Governance: Resolving the Soup Kitchen Controversy
Designing Modern Development Projects
Globalization and Democratization: A Contradiction


10. Concluding Thoughts


Making Social Construction Effective
The Tao of Public Administration


Challenges the limitations of modern public administration theories.


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.

Jong S. Jun is Professor Emeritus of Public Administration at California State University at East Bay. He has published many books, including Rethinking Administrative Theory: The Challenge of the New Century.