“My small contribution to peace on earth.” : An interview study on the role perception of street-level bureaucrats within EU soft law
Abstract: The aim of the thesis is to explore how national street-level bureaucrats perceive their role when implementing EU soft law in a Europeanised environment. Existing studies have focused on the role perception of public servants working within implementation of EU hard law, or being diplomats or working on ministerial level. These studies find that there is an additional EU servant role perception, beyond the national servant role perception. It provides the theoretical and empirical expectation that the public servants on the street-level and within EU soft law are national servants and do not hold an additional EU role perception. The study uses theories on Europeanisation, identity and role perception, and street-level bureaucracy to further understand the case. The thesis is based on 13 semi-structured interviews to understand the role perception. The selected case is a least-likely study as it explores role perception of street-level bureaucrats within EU soft law. More precisely, the field of higher education and its internationalisation, as the study selects the Erasmus+ programme and street-level bureaucrats who work with its implementation in Sweden. This, to understand how they perceive their role when implementing an EU programme and in a Europeanised, but also national, environment. The findings of the thesis show that the street-level bureaucrats hold a national role perception but there are respondents who also present a perception of an additional EU role perception, for example five respondents who presented to be working for the EU in addition to the Higher Education Institution. Thus, it does not provide enough support for the theoretical and empirical expectations to be confirmed that street-level bureaucrats within EU soft law only hold a national servant role perception. Hence, it shows that it also exists a perception of also being an EU servant and holding loyalty to the EU.
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