Barbara Giullari, Francesco Bertoni

Knowledge and social planning. A case study: the Bologna Observatory on Social Needs

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Knowledge; Public Action; Social Planning; Information System; Capability for Voice.

Based on a case study of the Bologna metropolitan area, the article deals with the relationship between the design and transformation of information systems, policy goals, and implementation practices in local welfare systems. The first part provides an overview of how the Italian regulatory framework recently changed in the way that local public action takes place, and a theoretical discussion of the relationship between social planning and knowledge. Against this backdrop, the authors describe the implementation process of an information system aimed at supporting access to local social care services, and matching supply with demand. Due to predefined targets and matching of claimants/services, the evidence from the case study shows that the design of the computerized system actually obscures needs, wants, and demands. In contrast, on the basis of their daily interaction with citizens, front-desk officers have a good sense of how social needs have changed (especially following the crisis) and of their current profile. This kind of knowledge - which usually does not filter upwards - is extremely precious and should receive more attention. In the authors' view, "street-level bureaucrats" can play a crucial role to adjust the organizational system to meet peoples' needs.

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