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- Author or Editor: Richard Simmons x
Cultural Theory’s (CT) four ‘cultural biases’ hold an intuitive appeal and empirical resonance for policy scholars as they seek to make sense of complex policy contexts. Yet research applications of CT are often hampered by superficial classifications and a lack of operationalisable measures. This article solves these problems, presenting valid measures in a ‘compass’ and ‘map’ to show how cultural patterns are both ‘internalised’ in individuals and ‘institutionalised’ in policy contexts. Key tensions here provide researchers with new interpretive tools to promote better questioning, learning and adaptation within particular policy environments, including opportunities for research impact through practical, ‘institutional work’.
Lasswell’s (1951) seminal notion of effective policy analysis combines the ‘technical’ tasks of ‘the scientific study of problems’ and ‘policymaking around these problems’ (Turnbull, 2008). Yet uncertainty and complexity are widely acknowledged to structure contemporary policy-making environments (for example, Geyer and Cairney, 2015). Phenomena such as bounded rationality (Simon, 1955) and ‘wicked’ policy problems (Rittel and Webber, 1973) mean that sense-making often relies on more than simply scientific analysis. Grint (2005, 1473) therefore observes that to make progress in confronting often intractable problems, ‘the task is to ask the right questions rather than provide the right answers’. Complexity therefore places a premium on not only evidence and judgement, but also the ability to question, learn and adapt.
In the face of this complexity, institutions matter. Policymakers use institutions to establish and prioritise particular values, norms, rules and roles, thereby reducing the complexity of choice. Sometimes this can be a very positive process, inspiring a flow of ideas and fast-thinking-type solutions to policy problems that ‘fit’ with the policy context. However, sometimes institutions can get in the way – reinforcing values, systems and practices that no longer fit so well, and acting as blinders to emerging issues. So how do policymakers develop effective policymaking strategies when they are so limited by bounded rationality? Do their ‘cognitive frailties’ make them over- reliant on a combination of rational and irrational informational shortcuts to act quickly and make adequate decisions? If so, should institutions be designed to limit their autonomous powers, or instead should their ability to develop such heuristics be celebrated, and work be undertaken with them to refine such techniques? This chapter mobilises Cultural Theory (CT) to address such questions, allowing researchers to examine the role of institutions in structuring how policy actors make sense of their environment.
This chapter examines the concept of mutuality and the ways in which it may be applied to the social determinants of health in local government. Mutuality is defined broadly as the sharing of a feeling, action, or relationship between two or more parties, upon which cooperation is based. In turn, cooperation may be defined as ‘acting together, in a co-ordinated way, in social relationships, in the pursuit of shared goals, the enjoyment of the joint activity, or simply furthering the relationship’. With regard to governance, different expressions of mutuality and cooperation arise, but are often conflated, in the literature. The chapter looks at mutuality from these different perspectives for the social determinants of health in local government. It contends that mutuality is properly considered in conditions where its contribution may be productive, and that where mutuality meets this condition, it should be employed as productively as possible. The chapter starts from broad perspectives of governance, narrowing through the place and role of mutuality in modes of governance, to how it is expressed in specific governance arrangements.
This chapter explores how notions of orientation and navigation might contribute in practice to the governance of contemporary policymaking problems. Further, focusing in particular on the main topics for this book, it seeks to understand the role and potential of relationalism with regard to wicked issues and the social determinants of health. It asks: what mechanisms can be put in place to help policymakers navigate this terrain, develop clearer understandings and more effective responses?
This chapter argues that the nature of wicked problems, including those relating to the social determinants of health, often means that they must be continually ‘navigated’ rather than ‘solved’.
‘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’.
This book challenges existing stereotypes about the ‘consumer as chooser’. It shows how we must develop a more sophisticated understanding of consumers, examining their place and role as users of public services. The analysis shows that there are many different ‘faces’ of the consumer and that it is not easy to categorise users in particular environments.
Drawing on empirical research, “The consumer in public services" critiques established assumptions surrounding citizenship and consumption. Choice may grab the policy headlines but other essential values are revealed as important throughout the book. One issue concerns the ‘subjects’ of consumerism, or who it is that presents themselves when they come to use public services. Another concerns consumer ‘mechanisms’, or the ways that public services try to relate to these people. Bringing these issues together for the first time, with cutting-edge contributions from a range of leading researchers, the message is that today’s public services must learn to cope with a differentiated public.
This book will be of interest to scholars and students in the fields of social policy and public administration. It will also appeal to policy-makers leading ‘user-focused’ public service reforms, as well as those responsible for implementing such reforms at the frontline of modern public services.
A key focus of this book was to think about the ‘differentiated consumer’ in public services, and what it meant from different perspectives in relation to public services and consumption. This chapter attempts to make sense of all this by returning to some of the themes set out in the Introduction. First, it recognises that many different faces and mechanisms of consumerism exist. This helps people to identify who it is that presents themselves when they use public services and what their expectations might be, as well as what responses they might face from public service providers. Second, the chapter acknowledges the role of different public service contexts, and that what works in terms of consumerism and choice for some people in some settings may not be universal. Third, it acknowledges the role of values in different public service contexts.
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.
The emergence of participation as a theme in public service governance has attracted a good deal of research attention. This chapter focuses on two linked theoretical frameworks that have emerged from this body of work and suggests that they can make a useful contribution to developing the research agenda on children's participation. The first of these, mutual incentives theory (MIT), concerns the motivations of people to participate. It focuses on whether their motivations are primarily individual or collective. The second, the concept of the participation chain, recognises that knowledge of people's motivations is not enough. It extends MIT by looking at how the different components that make up the process of participation are linked together.