User-led organisations: building an alternative approach

Colin Barnes and Geof Mercer

in Independent futures

Published by Policy Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9781861347183
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302599 | DOI:
User-led organisations: building an alternative approach

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This chapter begins the book's review of the fieldwork data collected as part of the Creating Independent Futures project. First, it examines disabled activists' dissatisfaction with the ways in which successive governments promoted consumerism, via the marketization of services, particularly the ideas and practices associated with user involvement and consultation. This is contrasted with the commitment of organizations of disabled people to a democratic or participatory approach. Second, it traces the diverse origins and growth of user-led organizations, looking in detail at nine case study sites. The third section considers the adherence of user-led organizations to a social model of disability and how this is translated into the development and operation of user-controlled services. Finally, the discussion turns to the organization, management structures and resources available to user-led services with reference to the key themes identified by research participants. These are: control, accountability, inclusion and the tensions arising from organizational attempts to reconcile the principles of the social model of disability with the realities of operating within a service provider context that does little to recognise disabled people's experience of social exclusion.

Keywords: Creating Independent Futures project; consumerism; user-led organizations; social model; disability; user-controlled services; control; accountability; inclusion

Chapter.  7378 words.  Illustrated.

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