The current age of political turbulence – expressed through citizen dissatisfaction and populist politics – represents a fundamental challenge to the authority of the institutions of the administrative state. As public administration is central to democratic governance, as it connects citizens to the state, it is central to explore sources of citizen disconnection and administrative efforts to reconnect citizens with the state.
RECONNECT investigates how calls for more ‘responsive’ administrative state institutions have developed – both among citizens and politicians – and how the administrative state has sought to become more responsive, especially when simultaneously faced with expectations of neutrality and impartiality.
RECONNECT explores, across European states, five distinct citizen-focused dimensions of the administrative state: constitutional, regulatory, enabling, consumer-protecting and consulting dimensions. Using a mixed-methods approach, including attitudinal, media, document and interview analysis, RECONNECT generates new knowledge to compare and explain variation across both European jurisdictions and dimensions of the administrative state. In the process, the project contributes to academic and practitioner debates regarding the future of the administrative state, and to a better understanding of how citizens can be reconnected to wider democratic governance and the administrative state in particular.