Chapter

Understanding the ‘differentiated consumer’ in public services

Richard Simmons

in The consumer in public services

Published by Policy Press

Published in print April 2009 | ISBN: 9781847421814
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447303725 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781847421814.003.0004
Understanding the ‘differentiated consumer’ in public services

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‘Choice’ and ‘voice’ have become watchwords of current policy and provision in public services. Evidence points to choice serving as an important incentive for promoting quality, efficiency, and equity in public services, and in many cases more effectively than relying solely or largely upon alternative mechanisms such as ‘voice’. This chapter argues that both choice and voice have their merits, based on the need which users identify for ensuring that providers listen to what they have to say. While notions of choice invite images of public service users ‘shopping around’ for the best provider, the best appointment time, the best housing, and so on, there are different elements to people's relationships with the public services they use, which mean that it is ‘not like shopping’.

Keywords: public service consumers; choice; voice; consumer choice

Chapter.  6954 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social Movements and Social Change

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