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Citizen-State Interactions


Admission requirements

MPA students of the PML track can register for this course.


The specialisation course Citizen-State Interactions teaches you how public governance depends on the day-to-day encounters between citizens and the state, and how these interactions influence the views that citizens hold of government. In the wake of unpopular reforms, failing performance, and restrictive measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the legitimacy of public governance is increasingly under pressure. The performance expectations of citizens are often not met, resulting in dissatisfaction and frustration, and citizens generally hold negative stereotypical views of government and civil servants. When citizens interact with government, they often experience bureaucracy, administrative burdens and red tape. Moreover, citizens’ contact with the government often occur digitally and depend increasingly on automated algorithmic decision-making. Amidst such developments, how can government guarantee equal treatment of citizens, yet also be responsive to citizens’ unique circumstances?

This course examines the interactions between front-line bureaucrats and citizens through a myriad of theoretical perspectives, covering both the context of front-line decision making and citizens’ experiences. You will learn how how declining trust in government can be mitigated by improving citizens’ experiences with and perceptions of government. The course draws on an international body of knowledge, and develops a highly practical perspective on the street-level interactions between government and citizens.

Course objectives

At the end of this course, students are able to

  • Explain how citizen-state interactions determine the views and attitudes of citizens toward government, based on core theories and concepts;

  • Recognise and reflect on the role of values and value trade-offs in front-line decision making;

  • Critically analyse how contemporary developments in society may impact citizen-state interactions;

  • Understand and compare the key theoretical perspectives on citizen-state interactions;

  • Provide recommendations to improve the quality of front-line decision making, and citizens’ experiences with government.


On the right side of programme front page of the Prospectus you will find links to the website and timetables, uSis and Brightspace.

Mode of instruction

Weekly classes (21 hours), individual paper (40 hours), self study (79 hours).

Assessment method

Individual assignment (100%). Students will be permitted to retake the assignment if an insufficient grade has been obtained using the first attempt.

Partial grades are only valid in the current academic year; partial grades will not remain valid after the exam and the resit of the course.

Reading list

To be announced.


Register for every course and workgroup via MyStudymap or uSis. Registration for courses is possible from 13 July 13.00h. Some courses and workgroups have a limited number of participants, so register on time (before the course starts). In uSis you can access your personal schedule and view your results.

Leiden University uses Brightspace as its online learning management system. After enrolment for the course in uSis you will be automatically enrolled in the Brightspace environment of this course.


Dr. N.J. Raaphorst