Bernardo Zacka is a political theorist with an interest in ethnographic methods. His research focuses on the normative challenges that arise in the course of public policy implementation. He is interested in understanding how the organizational environment in which public officials are situated affects their capacity to operate as moral agents, and how architecture shapes our encounters with the welfare state. Zacka is also interested, more broadly, in normative political theory, architecture and urbanism, and 20th century European political thought.
Zacka's first book, When the State Meets the Street: Public Service and Moral Agency, was published by Harvard University Press in 2017. It explores the everyday moral lives of street-level bureaucrats. It won the 2018 Charles Taylor book award from the Interpretive Methodologies and Methods group of the American Political Science Association, and it builds on Zacka's doctoral dissertation, which won the 2015 Robert Noxon Toppan prize for the best dissertation on a subject of political science at Harvard University.
His second book project, provisionally titled Institutional Atmospherics: The Interior Architecture of the Welfare State (under contract with Harvard University Press), reconstructs and interrogates the evolution of the interior architecture of welfare offices. Along with Duncan Bell, he has co-edited a volume of essays on Political Theory and Architecture.
Prior to joining MIT, Zacka was a junior research fellow at Christ's College, Cambridge and a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Ethics in Society at Stanford.
He holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT (2005), and received his Ph.D. from the Department of Government at Harvard University in 2015.