Beyond Service: State Workers, Public Policy, and the Prospects for Democratic Administration


338 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 0-8020-4766-1
DDC 331'.04135171




Reviewed by Joseph Garcea

Joseph Garcea is a professor of political Studies at the University of


Beyond Service has two central themes: state workers matter in the grand
scheme of providing good service and fostering social justice; and their
preferences and behavior ought to be part of any evaluation of public
policies and programs.

The author’s primary goal is to provide a corrective to the
conventional view that neoconservatism has stripped governmental
workers—and particularly frontline workers—of their power and
capacity to work either on their own behalf or on behalf of the various
societal groups they are mandated to serve. McElligott uses a case study
of the federal department of Employment and Immigration Canada to argue
that institutionalized “mundane resistance” (as opposed to
“militant resistance”) to some elements of governmentally sanctioned
policies and procedures has provided those particular state workers with
an alternative approach in serving both their clients and the greater
public good effectively.

Beyond Service ends with a clarion call for social and moral
responsibility on the part of public servants: “The task is to develop
new state structures that liberate state workers’ capacity for empathy
and policy control, while ensuring accountability to clients rather than
to a vaguely defined public interest.” This truly remarkable book is
recommended for academics who want an orientation or reorientation to
critical leftist theory regarding the behavior of states actors, and for
those in the public and private sectors who would like to know how
frontline government workers might serve as counterweights to
governmental policies and procedures that serve neither their clients
nor the public interest very well.


McElligott, Greg., “Beyond Service: State Workers, Public Policy, and the Prospects for Democratic Administration,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 21, 2024,