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From resistance and control to normative orders: The Wire’s Cedric Daniels as an ethical bureaucrat

Dallyn, Sam and Marinetto, Mike ORCID: 2022. From resistance and control to normative orders: The Wire’s Cedric Daniels as an ethical bureaucrat. Human Relations 75 (3) , pp. 560-582. 10.1177/0018726720982040

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While the categories of control and resistance have provided important frames of reference to understand workplace relations, we argue that they offer a limited analytical range when investigating conduct in public institutions where work still has sizeable elements of discretion – despite the increasing demands of performance measurement that have been a central component of new public management. Here, we investigate the HBO series, The Wire, and situate it as a piece of social science fiction. By affording more attention to the different ‘codes’ of policework depicted on the show we develop a more pluralistic understanding of workplace conduct. In tracing out different normative orders that characterize these codes, we consider The Wire’s Cedric Daniels’ distinctive positioning in relation to performance measurement and the predominant normative order of ‘the numbers game’ and argue that he consistently displays the code of an ethical bureaucrat.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Additional Information: article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access page (
Publisher: SAGE
ISSN: 0018-7267
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 5 January 2021
Date of Acceptance: 15 October 2020
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 15:04

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