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Department of Geography

Staff Profile

Publication details for Dr Jesse Proudfoot

Proudfoot, J. & McCann, E. J. At Street Level: Bureaucratic Practice in the Management of Urban Neighborhood Change. Urban Geography. 2008;29:348-370.

Author(s) from Durham


Bureaucratic regulation shapes cities in important ways. Yet certain aspects of how state regulation operates in urban neighborhoods have been understudied in geography and cognate disciplines. This article focuses on one understudied group of state actors: property use, health, and liquor inspectors, part of a wider group of "street-level bureaucrats" who, through their face-to-face contact with the public, affect how and where regulatory enforcement gets done. Through a case study of inspectors in Vancouver, British Columbia, this study identifies the role of street-level bureaucratic practice in shaping urban neighborhoods and in managing neighborhood change. We discuss how street-level bureaucrats negotiate the constraints and pressures inherent to their practice while also exercising a degree of discretion. And we argue that these micro-level concerns are important to understanding how cities are produced but they must also be linked with analyses of wider processes that shape contemporary urban development.