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“I take an oath to the state, not the government”: Career Trajectories and Professional Ethics of Ghanaian Public Servants

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores normative statements and narratives that feature role models or castigate discrimination and patronage. It argues that these ideals and stories create moral boundaries and support an 'esprit de corps' of dedicated public servants. The chapter discusses how such particularist identities are mobilised in the construction of a universalist ethos of public service. It gives an overview of the educational background of the public servants. The chapter discusses their experiences and views with respect to two major themes: firstly, the motivation to join the public service and the factors they identify as determining their own and other public servants' career trajectories; secondly, their ideas about the state, their own role and their professional ethics. Finally, it looks at the ideological and social resources that they mobilise in their quest for a dignified professional life.

Keywords: career trajectories; patronage; professional ethics; public servants; social resources



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