From resistance and control to normative orders: The Wire’s Cedric Daniels as an ethical bureaucrat

Sam Dallyn*, Mike Marinetto

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

While the categories of control and resistance have provided important frames of reference to understand workplace relations, we argue that they offer a limited analytical range when investigating conduct in public institutions where work still has sizeable elements of discretion – despite the increasing demands of performance measurement that have been a central component of new public management. Here, we investigate the HBO series, The Wire, and situate it as a piece of social science fiction. By affording more attention to the different ‘codes’ of policework depicted on the show we develop a more pluralistic understanding of workplace conduct. In tracing out different normative orders that characterize these codes, we consider The Wire’s Cedric Daniels’ distinctive positioning in relation to performance measurement and the predominant normative order of ‘the numbers game’ and argue that he consistently displays the code of an ethical bureaucrat.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-23
Number of pages23
JournalHuman Relations
Early online date27 Dec 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

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