Chapter

Service users and the third sector: opportunities, challenges and potentials in influencing the governance of public services

Graham P. Martin

in Critical Perspectives on User Involvement

Published by Policy Press

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9781847427519
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447305590 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781847427519.003.0005
Service users and the third sector: opportunities, challenges and potentials in influencing the governance of public services

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One aspect of the governance changes that took place within the public sector in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries has been an increased role for public and user participation in the design, management and evaluation of public services, and a changing role for third-sector organisations. Frequently, the two approaches are closely linked, with third-sector organisations seen as a conduit for the views of users, carers and the public within governance processes. However, the changed role of not-for-profit organisations in public service governance brings with it tensions, many of which are brought into focus by efforts that cast these organisations in the role of conduits for users' views, while at the same time also giving them other, potentially conflicting, roles in managing and delivering services. This chapter examines the threats and opportunities to influential public participation that arise from this situation, illuminating the issues noted in the literature by drawing on insights derived from a longitudinal qualitative study of user involvement in a programme of pilot cancer-genetics services, orchestrated by the charity Macmillan Cancer Support. It highlights the implications of wider changes in welfare governance for service users and activists who seek to carve out a role for user involvement that is influential but also autonomous.

Keywords: third sector; governance; partnership; cancer

Chapter.  3929 words. 

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