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Sisyphean Struggles

Encounters and Interactions within Two US Public Housing Programs

Erika Gubrium, Sabina Dhakal, Laura Sylvester, and Aline Gubrium

the mission of the housing services and their thoughts about this approach, as well as how and why they had come into housing service provision. They were also asked to describe a typical day as a caseworker, including their particular activities

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COVID-19 and Uncertain Intimacy

State–Society Relations in Urban China and Beyond

Jialing Luo

of the pandemic in terms of both surveillance and service provision. Specifically, when nearly the entire country was under lockdown, the shequ workers were busy implementing a range of measures taken by the state. Their tasks generally included

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Public Policy or Popular Demand?

Why Californians Shifted from Trains to Autos (and Not Buses), 1910-1941

Gregory Thompson

This essay examines the transition from a rail-based intercity transportation system in California in 1910 to a road/private auto-based system thirty years later, with hypotheses that the transition could be explained by either corporate and state decisions for supplying infrastructure or by public demand. The essay examines trends of automobile ownership, road investment, bus organization and service provision, intercity passenger rail service provision, and intercity rail revenues, both within California and to and from California in each of the three decades. It concludes that public preference for private automobility explains most of the transition but that unserved demand remained for fast passenger train service between the state's large metropolitan areas. Failure to serve that demand derived from California's legacy of popular disdain for the private railroad industry.

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Nicoletta Bevilacqua

In its electoral programme, the new centre right government that

took office after the victory of 13 May 2001 had announced its

intention to stress the digitalisation of public administration, which

it considered to be a necessary requirement for ‘redesigning public

administration from the foundations and reinventing the state in

organisational and functional terms so as to seize the potential

offered by new technologies’. The programme identified a break

with the approach taken by centre left governments in the need to

place ‘the idea of service provision as well as the organisation itself’

at the heart of ‘e-government’ policy, as opposed to setting up a network

infrastructure such as RUPA (Rete unitaria della pubblica

amministrazione – Public Administration Unitary Network), which

had been acted on by the previous government and judged ineffective

‘due to the lack of an adequate plan of organisational reform’.

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Viral Intimacy and Catholic Nationalist Political Economy

Covid-19 and the Community Response in Rural Ireland

David Whyte


Changes in the conduct and regulation of intimacy during the COVID-19 crisis in the Republic of Ireland has uncovered the legacy of Catholic nationalism in Irish capitalism. Many commentators analysed the increased welfarism and community service provision as the suspension of Irish neoliberalism. In fact, the Irish COVID-19 response is shaped by a longer tradition of political and economic approaches that have their genesis in the revolutionary Catholic state following independence from Britain. Based on ethnography of community development practices in a rural Irish region, the article describes how Catholic nationalist influences are present in the collection of institutions involved in the Community Response and its approach to spatial organisation. The governance of the response also sheds light on a lack of intimacy between citizen and state that is not only the product of neoliberal structural adjustments but is uniquely characteristic of the Catholic ethos that influences Irish capitalism.

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Yoram Ida, Amir Hefetz, Assaf Meydani, Gila Menahem, and Elad Cohen

carried out at the local level, a question arises: what innovative policy tools can be utilized in local service provision to reduce inequality between localities? In our research, we studied one such policy tool: a national mandate that each local

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, partners on the project, present a series of articles with emergent findings from five cases of service provision interactions between antipoverty measure providers and recipients, namely in China, India, Norway, Uganda, and the United States. The project

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Ben Berkowitz and Jean-Paul Gagnon

the services that their local governments are providing them. SeeClickFix also reduces the costs associated with local service provision, as it lowers the number of phone calls that frontline civil servants receive by introducing automated responses

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Capacity Building as Instrument and Empowerment

Training Health Workers for Community-Based Roles in Ghana

Harriet Boulding

developing health systems, in which discourses of capacity building and the social aspects of poverty are being integrated with an ethos of basic, low-cost service provision informed by the economic strategies of the previous decades. Both the recipients and

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Claudia Mitchell and Ann Smith

because service provision and campaigns failed to take into account their particular vulnerabilities. As an example, the wide-spread ABC campaigns (Abstinence, Be Faithful, Condomize) instituted by government and many NGOs failed to take account of the