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The Absurdity of BureaucracyHow Implementation Works$
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Nina Holm Vohnsen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781526101341

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526101341.001.0001

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Epilogue: bureaucracy—choose your own adventure

Epilogue: bureaucracy—choose your own adventure

(p.141) Epilogue: bureaucracy—choose your own adventure
The Absurdity of Bureaucracy

Nina Holm Vohnsen

Manchester University Press

This chapter is an interactive novel where the reader is invited to step into the role of caseworker and implementer of policy. The form is in itself an analytical point: any decision the reader makes might later trap him or her or have unintended consequences. By taking one decision rather than another, the reader is cut off from knowing what other decisions might have led to. The epilogue thus paraphrases the central Kierkegaardian dilemma that will return to haunt policy implementation: what you will regret is not the thing you do but all the thing you by implication did not do. The method used is the style of writing sometimes referred to as a branching-plot novel or gamebook. The idea is that the reader participates in the narration of the story by taking decisions in key moments. The aim of this is to engage the reader and make them ‘complicit’ in the casework rather than analytically distanced. The validity rests on a close commitment to the empirical data. Each situation described did take place in November 2009, each decision has been made by one of the municipal caseworkers, and the reflective voices narrated in the text echo explicitly voiced concerns.

Keywords:   Dilemma, Unintended consequences, Decision-making, Reflection, Game book

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