The bounded morality: integrity in Hungarian local governments

This contribution deals with the analysis of ethnographic data on public administration cases in local governments in Hungary. The main focus is on the perception that public administrators have of integrity challenges, how far these influence their daily tasks, the most relevant changes introduced at the government and policy level, as well as the socio-cultural explanations that are most commonly given in relation with the issue of corruption in the country. Understanding the everyday work of public administration in a country is a complex task which, departing from the study of the organisational structure and its dynamics and expanding to the changes introduced at the policy level, it needs a nuanced and interdisciplinary approach. Nonetheless, I believe that through the innovative lens of the anthropological approach, it is possible to investigate some of these features through a bottom-up perspective that looks at ways how administrators perceive the main challenges, strengths and their changes in the field of integrity. In general, all the interviewed were very concerned about the importance of increasing integrity in their daily tasks. This importance is by them attributed not only to their responsibilities as administrators or business executives, but reflects clearly their commitment with the societal good in general. On the other hand, excessive and frequent re-structuring of public organisations, lack of personnel, poor wages, a still weak commitment to integrity from the leadership, the negative role of media to spread news about corruption and insufficient education at the school level are all challenges that respondents individuated when dealing with transparency and integrity.

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