This article aims to contribute to street-level bureaucracy theory by bringing to the forefront the experiences and perspectives of the Global South. Our argument is that mainstream literature in this field overlooks the social tensions that are more explicit in developing societies, resulting in a structurally limited analytical framework. We identify two key factors from the Global South that are often underestimated: the high degree of social inequalities that fundamentally affect state–citizen relationships, and the ways in which the state itself reflects and reproduces these inequalities. Our critique represents a step towards decolonizing the field and highlighting the conceptual contributions that studies from and of the Global South can offer. By examining the experiences of the Global South, we can gain insights into the crises societies in the Global North are also experiencing. Our article aims to contribute to street-level bureaucracy theory by emphasizing the value of incorporating these perspectives into the study of street-level bureaucracy.