When the Clients Can Choose: Dilemmas of Street-Level Workers in Choice-Based Social Services

Nissim Cohen, Avishai Benish, and Aya Shamriz-Ilouz, "When the Clients Can Choose: Dilemmas of Street-Level Workers in Choice-Based Social Services," Social Service Review 90, no. 4 (December 2016): 620-646.

39 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2017

See all articles by Nissim Cohen

Nissim Cohen

University of Haifa - Department of Public Policy and Administration

Avishai Benish

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - The Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare

Aya Shamriz-Ilouz Shamriz-Ilouz

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Date Written: December 5, 2016

Abstract

English Abstract: How does the increased use of choice-based management strategies in social services influence the behavior of street-level workers? In this article, we provide an analytical framework for understanding street-level logic in choice-based environments. We then turn to the case of home nursing care in Israel to examine how choice plays out in street-level workers’ day-to-day practices. By relying on 34 interviews with social workers working in home care agencies, we illustrate how street-level workers’ jobs have expanded beyond implementing public policy to include the “new job” of recruiting and retaining clients. The article shows how a choice-based environment gives higher priority to clients’ preferences, but at the same time these preferences are subordinated to the economic interest of the providers. It also demonstrates how market pressures may push street-level workers to develop new practices and coping strategies that go beyond but often also counter to formal policy.

Keywords: choice, elderly care, Israel; new public management; social services administration; street-level workers

Suggested Citation

Cohen, Nissim and Benish, Avishai and Shamriz-Ilouz, Aya Shamriz-Ilouz, When the Clients Can Choose: Dilemmas of Street-Level Workers in Choice-Based Social Services (December 5, 2016). Nissim Cohen, Avishai Benish, and Aya Shamriz-Ilouz, "When the Clients Can Choose: Dilemmas of Street-Level Workers in Choice-Based Social Services," Social Service Review 90, no. 4 (December 2016): 620-646.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2928838

Nissim Cohen

University of Haifa - Department of Public Policy and Administration ( email )

Haifa
Israel

Avishai Benish (Contact Author)

Hebrew University of Jerusalem - The Baerwald School of Social Work and Social Welfare ( email )

Jerusalem
Israel

Aya Shamriz-Ilouz Shamriz-Ilouz

Hebrew University of Jerusalem ( email )

Mount Scopus
Jerusalem, IL Jerusalem 91905
Israel

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