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Enacting the internet and social media on the public sector's frontline

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Graeme Mearns, Ranald Richardson, Liz Robson



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2015.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Recognising their growing role in public services, this article draws on the notion of ‘enactment’ to argue that the internet and social media (I&SM) need to be understood in particular insti- tutional, organisational and social contexts. Focusing on street- level bureaucrats who deliver frontline services, we explore efforts to integrate I&SM into youth work with clients who are thought to be ‘digitally savvy’ but also in need of protection from the ‘online world’. As clients can be vulnerable and trust is a key relational component, organisation–practitioner–client boundaries are complex and under continuous renegotiation. However, the layering of new virtual channels of interaction adds extra complexity. This change necessitates the develop- ment of innovative routines, practices and protocols, but these are being developed in a wider social context where the norms of using social media have not caught up with practice and the use of these tools is still often surrounded by moral panic.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Mearns GW, Richardson R, Robson E

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: New Technology, Work and Employment

Year: 2015

Volume: 30

Issue: 3

Pages: 190-208

Print publication date: 01/11/2015

Online publication date: 09/12/2015

Acceptance date: 01/11/2015

Date deposited: 13/01/2016

ISSN (print): 0268-1072

ISSN (electronic): 1468-005X

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd


DOI: 10.1111/ntwe.12054


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