Social Work Senior Managers as Street-Level Policymakers

Anat Sery, Idit Weiss-Gal*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study enhances the knowledge regarding the role of senior managers of street-level organisations in reshaping social policy on the ground, a subject that has been side-lined in research. The study focused on the ways senior managers of local government social services in Israel, all of whom are social workers by law, implemented emergency material assistance (EMA). This form of assistance is formulated by the central government but administered by local government. A qualitative research design based on semi-structured interviews with sixteen senior managers from diverse localities was employed. Findings showed that senior managers played a major role in the reconstruction of EMA on the ground. They reshaped policy in some or all of its major aspects. Both contextual factors and ideological factors impacted their policy decisions. The contextual factors were budgetary constraints, accessibility of resources from localities or charities, and socio-economic status of the locality. The ideological factors were managers' attitudes towards the policy, the place of material assistance in the social service, risk, and perceptions of poverty and people living in poverty. These factors led to divergences in material assistance across localities, while conservative and poverty-aware attitudes guided managers as they navigated between state-agent and citizen-agent roles.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2348-2366
Number of pages19
JournalBritish Journal of Social Work
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2022


  • Israel
  • local social services
  • policymaking
  • social work discretion
  • street-level managers


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