The organization of discipline: From performance management to perversity and punishment

Joe Soss, Richard Fording, Sanford F. Schram

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

234 Scopus citations


Drawing on participant observation, in-depth interviews, and statistical analysis of administrative data, this article explores the operation of performance management in the Florida Welfare Transition program and its effects on decisions to sanction welfare clients. Unlike most econometric research on welfare sanctions, we approach sanctioning as an organized practice that reflects, not just client characteristics and behaviors, but also organizational needs, routines, values, authority relations, environments, and systems of reward and punishment. Our analysis focuses on the organization of discipline and, in the process, suggests that scholars may misrepresent and misinterpret the incidence of discipline when they fail to account for the dynamic ways that organization and management shape sanctioning patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)i203-i232
JournalJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory
Issue numberSUPPL. 2
StatePublished - Apr 2011


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