States at Work explores the mundane practices of state-making in Africa by focussing on the daily functioning of public services and the practices of civil servants. Adopting mainly an ethgraphic approach as a basis for theorizing, the authors deal with topics including: bureaucratic cultures and practical rms, operational routines in offices, career patterns and modes of appointment; how bureaucrats themselves perceive and deliver goods and services and interact with service users; the accumulation of public administration reforms and how the different bureaucratic corps react to the 'good governance' discourse and new public management policies; the consequences of these reforms for the daily working of state bureaucracies and for the civil servants' identities and modes of accountability; and the space that exists for bottom-up micro-reforms that build on local invations or informal arrangements.
Thomas Bierschenk is Professor of Anthropology and Modern African Studies at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, Germany. He has published widely on politics, the state and development in West and Central Africa. Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan lives in Niger and works at the Laboratoire d'Etudes et de Recherche sur les Dynamiques Sociales et le Developpement Local (LASDEL) on the delivery of public and collective goods in West Africa. He is also emeritus research director at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and professor of Anthropology at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), France.