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How Armed Conflicts and Territorial Disputes Impact Street-Level Bureaucracy: The Fronts of the Russian Occupation in Ukraine

Grant number: 23/01522-2
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): January 01, 2024
Effective date (End): December 31, 2025
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Political Science - State and Government
Principal Investigator:Gabriela Spanghero Lotta
Grantee:Vicente Giaccaglini Ferraro Junior
Host Institution: Escola de Administração de Empresas (EAESP). Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


Since the 1980s, the performance of street-level bureaucrats (SLB) has received increasing attention in Political Science. These professionals are fundamental in the implementation of public policies; their work is marked by numerous challenges, such as scarce resources, high demand, political pressures, uncertainties and high level of discretion. These challenges are even more intense when SLB are faced with emergency situations - during the Covid-19 pandemic, a consistent field of research on their performance in crises was developed. However, a subfield, of extreme theoretical and empirical relevance, remains little explored - their performance in contexts of conflict and disputes over territory. The war in Ukraine, the tensest conflict on European soil since World War II, is an emblematic case that can bring significant contributions. This research aims to analyze how the performance of SLB is affected by situations of armed confrontation and territorial disputes, as well as what strategies they adopt to adapt to adversities, drawing on the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The project will offer theoretical and empirical contributions by examining a context in which SLB coexist with two extreme conditions: the disruption of institutional ties with the higher levels of the bureaucracy and the pressures (and threats) of the different belligerent parties over their work (in the military occupation). Given the constraints of the researcher going into the field, some methodological alternatives will be developed, applying methods used in the pandemic and ways to contact with populations difficult to be accessed - a "distanced ethnography". Such an approach may result in appropriate guidelines and strategies for conducting research in contexts of violence, a common reality for SLB operating in border regions and on the outskirts of Brazilian municipalities.

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