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The consumer in public servicesChoice, values and difference$
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Richard Simmons, Martin Powell, and Ian Greener

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9781847421814

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847421814.001.0001

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The public service consumer as member

The public service consumer as member

(p.235) Thirteen The public service consumer as member
The consumer in public services

Richard Simmons

Johnston Birchall

Policy Press

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

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