Call for Papers: Issue of RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences

Issue of RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences on:

Administrative Burdens as a Mechanism of Inequality in Policy Implementation

Edited by
Pamela Herd, Georgetown University
Hilary Hoynes, University of California Berkeley
Jamila Michener, Cornell University
Donald Moynihan, Georgetown University

This special issue invites empirical papers that seek to enlarge our understanding of how administrative burdens contribute to inequality in policy implementation processes and outcomes, and potential solutions to these problems. Administrative burdens are people’s experiences of policy implementation as onerous. Burdens include learning costs, i.e., the time and effort it takes to find information about public services and what is required to access them; compliance costs, which include the paperwork needed to demonstrate eligibility, and the time and financial costs required by administrative processes. Administrative burdens also take the form of psychological costs. Psychological costs include the experience of stigma from applying for and participating in an unpopular program. They might also arise via a sense of a loss of autonomy when people feel they are subject to intrusive or coercive state power, the stresses from not knowing whether one can negotiate administrative ordeals where critical resources hang in the balance, or the accumulation of frustrations that come with burdens, especially those seen as unjust or unnecessary.

Social scientists have grappled with this issue from specific disciplinary perspectives. Economics has focused on ‘take-up’ or how these barriers impede access, for eligible populations, to social welfare policies. Political science has explored how politics can shape the creation of burdens and how the experience of burdens can influence beliefs such as political efficacy and trust in government. Sociology has emphasized how these burdens, within the context of organizations, are both a function of and a contributor to gender, race, and class inequality. Public administration has clarified the organizational basis of administrative burdens, including the use of bureaucratic discretion. The goal of this issue is to bring insights from multiple disciplines to grapple with the broader implications of these burdens for inequality.

Please click here for a full description of the topics covered in this call for articles.

Anticipated Timeline

Prospective contributors should submit a CV and an abstract (up to two pages in length, single or double spaced) of their study along with up to two pages of supporting material (e.g., tables, figures, pictures, references that don’t fit on the proposal pages, etc.) no later than 5 PM EST on April 21, 2021 to:

NOTE that if you wish to submit an abstract and do not yet have an account with us, it can take up to 48 hours to get credentials, so please start your application at least two days before the deadline. All submissions must be original work that has not been previously published in part or in full. Only abstracts submitted to

will be considered. Each paper will receive a $1,000 honorarium when the issue is published. All questions regarding this issue should be directed to Suzanne Nichols, Director of Publications, at and not to the email addresses of the editors of the issue.

A conference will take place at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York City on February 25, 2022. The selected contributors will gather for a one-day workshop to present draft papers (due a month prior to the conference on 1/25/22) and receive feedback from the other contributors and editors. Travel costs, food, and lodging for one author per paper will be covered by the foundation. Papers will be circulated before the conference. After the conference, the authors will submit their revised drafts by 6/1/22. The papers will then be sent out to three additional scholars for formal peer review. Having received feedback from reviewers and the RSF board, authors will revise their papers by 11/1/22. The full and final issue will be published in the fall of 2023. Papers will be published open access on the RSF website as well as in several digital repositories, including JSTOR and UPCC/Muse.

Please click here for a full description of the topics covered in this call for articles.

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