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Appears in Collections:Faculty of Social Sciences Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: User Involvement in Public Services: 'Choice about Voice'
Authors: Simmons, Richard
Birchall, Johnston
Prout, Alan
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Keywords: involvement
public services
service cultures
service users
Issue Date: Jan-2012
Publisher: SAGE
Citation: Simmons R, Birchall J & Prout A (2012) User Involvement in Public Services: 'Choice about Voice', Public Policy and Administration, 27 (1), pp. 3-29.
Abstract: Processes of involvement and representation are particularly important in UK public services if users' interests are adequately to be taken into account. Yet there are several different, sometimes competing ways for users' views to be represented, and their interaction is not well understood. This article reports on research exploring these issues in relation to three public services - housing, social care and leisure services. We asked, how do public service users experience and evaluate the alternative ways in which their interests may be represented, and what factors guide their ‘choice about voice'? Mechanisms available for users to express their views can be categorised as ‘hierarchical' (e.g. contacting elected officials); individualistic (e.g. complaints procedures); or group-based (e.g. user forums). Users make assumptions about what channel is appropriate for particular issues in a particular context. However, their ability to communicate via their chosen channel is dependent on viable opportunities to do so. This idea of viability (or lack of it) goes beyond the simple provision of a full range of channels. It relates to the prospects of users' views being recognised and accepted - and to the sense of disconnection and withdrawal that often accompanies low expectations or disappointing experiences.
Type: Journal Article
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Rights: The publisher does not allow this work to be made publicly available in this Repository. Please use the Request a Copy feature at the foot of the Repository record to request a copy directly from the author. You can only request a copy if you wish to use this work for your own research or private study.
Affiliation: Sociology/Social Pol&Criminology
Sociology/Social Pol&Criminology
University of Warwick

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