The public service consumer as member

Richard Simmons and Johnston Birchall

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:
The public service consumer as member

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This chapter argues that the idea of membership has an important place in discussions of the consumer in public services. However, there is currently insufficient clarity about the term and its various meanings. A partial membership is potentially against the public service ethos, but a more inclusive approach that takes account of the values, systems, and practices of membership is not. The challenge to service providers is to recognise both the different levels of membership and the interaction of the four dimensions of belonging, ownership, benefits, and control. The former helps people to understand the nature of people's identifications and interests, and connections that they make between these different levels. The latter helps people to break down the categories of interest and identity into a relatively manageable set of operationalisable dimensions.

Keywords: membership; public services; partial membership; belonging; ownership; benefits; control

Chapter.  7578 words. 

Subjects: Social Movements and Social Change

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