Civil Servants without Any Social Properties?

Adjustment and Predispositions at the Heart of Policies
By Sylvain Laurens, Delphine Serre

This idea of a State drawing upon different social groups and requiring predispositions incorporated through primary and secondary socialization could seem today an old-fashioned hypothesis as it ignores the levels of intermediation between administrative practice and earlier socialization of agents. It could make us forget the role played by the institutionalization of administrative roles, limited plasticity of administrative rules that have to be applied, and the role played by Grandes Écoles in the selection and recruitment of high-ranking civil servants. Yet this article deals with this classic question of Sociology of State. It argues that we should not consider on one hand social groups carrying values and on the other hand a State hiring from among groups of agents carrying homogeneous values. This article supports the assumption - common in the sociology of work but not applied when one comes to analyze the work of civil servants - that the entry into the profession (of bureaucrat) is associated with a continuous process of socialization that promotes or disqualifies certain previously acquired dispositions.

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