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Participation, responsibility and choice: summoning the active citizen in Western European welfare states

TL;DR: In this paper, the authors trace the emergence of new discourses and the ways in which they take up and rework struggles of social movements for greater independence, power and control.
Abstract: Responsibility, participation and choice are key policy framings of active citizenship, summoning the citizen to take on new roles in welfare state reform. This volume traces the emergence of new discourses and the ways in which they take up and rework struggles of social movements for greater independence, power and control. It explores the changing cultural and political inflections of active citizenship in Germany, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, France, Italy and the UK, with ethnographic research complementing policy analysis. The editors then look across the volume to assess some of the tensions and contradictions arising in the turn to active citizenship. Two final chapters address the reworking of citizen/professional relationships and the remaking of public, private and personal responsibilities, with a particular focus on the contribution of feminist research and theory.

Summary (6 min read)

CARE & WELFARE

  • Care and welfare are changing rapidly in contemporary welfare states.
  • The Care & Welfare series publishes studies on changing relationships between citizens and professionals, on care and welfare governance, on identity politics in the context of these welfare state transformations, and on ethical topics.

Choice

  • Choice has been a long-standing claim of many citizens burdened by dependent relationships with state services.
  • Citizens are being invited to view themselves as market actors, expressing choice in a new marketplace of public and private goods (Sulkunen et al. 1997).
  • Consumerism is usually associated with the individualisation of agency, stripping it from collective or solidaristic associations; it privileges choice while marginalising issues of voice.

Responsibility

  • The tendency to stress active citizens taking responsibility for their own and each other’s welfare and for community well-being is a second pillar introduction 13 of the new care and welfare order (Garland 2000; Paddison et al. 2008; Ilcan & Basok 2004).
  • Processes of responsibilisation seek to extend these unpaid activities and to open up new areas of both individual and collective responsibility.
  • The idea of the responsible citizen – caring for others, nurturing and protecting communities and engaging practically in a whole range of projects – draws on highly gendered conceptions of the capacities of family, civil society and community.
  • The reshuffling of public and private in today’s appeal for active citizenship is a key theme of this volume.

Participation

  • Conceptions of active citizenship invoke issues of agency, politics and power.
  • The chapter then suggests the significance of ways in which these different discourses are being articulated, and the inclusions, exclusions and inequalities that may result from dominant formations.
  • Chapter 12 reviews the contributions of this volume analysing the politics of active citizenship.
  • 24 janet newman and evelien tonkens References Barnes, M. (2006), Caring and Social Justice, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. —, J. Newman and H. Sullivan (2007), Power, participation and political renewal: Case studies in public participation, Bristol: Policy Press.

Responsibility: individual-public responsibility

  • According to their analysis, individual responsibility for taking care of old family members is a strong norm among carers.
  • In some cases, family members provided additional resources and played a very central role when the informal carer needed to negotiate with public authorities about the boundaries of their responsibilities (Valokivi & Zechner 2009).
  • Even though debates often tend to be dominated by a narrow rights-dominated version of socio-liberal citizenship (Johansson & Hvinden 2007), policymakers have regularly evoked notions of the active citizen in the hope that people will cooperate to realise ambitious welfare goals.
  • The development of municipal home care services brought about a new historical situation for the frail elderly who now could choose to stay in their own homes even with increasing care needs instead of being forced to move into either their children’s homes or to a home for the elderly.

The Norwegian elderly revolt

  • The cutbacks following the decentralisation reform were met with protest.
  • All of these measures signalled that citizens were expected to be empowered and activated in new ways – not as coproducers who collaborated on the ‘inside’ of welfare institutions but as consumers who act in a detached and discriminating role ‘outside’ welfare institutions.
  • Some of the traditional organisations working for older people have distanced themselves from the antagonistic approach of ‘Seniorsaken’, but the idea that high-quality elderly care should be an enforceable legal right and not just a moral right is a view widely shared among all activist organisations.
  • Caregiver staff continuously experienced moral choices about when to deviate from contracts, whether to change the priority ranking of cases, and how to vary staff time allotments in order to meet the unforeseen needs of the most frail elderly (Vabø 2006: 414).
  • Strømsnes, K. (2003), Folkets makt medborgerskap, demokrati og deltakelse.

Modernising the NHS

  • The National Health Service was the key symbolic marker of New Labour’s project of reform: one that sought to respond to the demands of its middle class supporters while not abandoning less advantaged citizens.
  • Addressing people who use public services as consumers proved a potent organising device for thinking about the dynamics and direction of public services, allowing a rhetorical contrast between the dull, oppressive and unresponsive style of public service ‘monopolies’ and the vibrant, innovative and liberating experiences of consumer culture (and the market relations that underpinned them).
  • For people who are clearly exhibiting signs of mild depression or anxiety, psychological (‘talking’) therapies offer a real alternative to medication.
  • Choice, the authors can see, was an instrument for improving the performance of providers, especially in terms of reducing waiting times, but also for opening up greater diversity (offering ‘alternative’ forms of provision).
  • As well as being offered choices in a new marketplace of health services, citizens were also encouraged to be responsible choice makers in their personal lives, supported by extensive (and expensive) programmes of public education – on obesity, smoking, exercise, parenting and, crucially, on the proper use of the health service itself with the figure of the ‘expert patient’.

Transforming social care

  • Some of the same dynamics were evident in government policies on social care.
  • In the UK the key role of service user movements has been that of elaborating critiques of paternalistic welfare policies and offering alternative paradigms.
  • The achievement of adult citizenship may, then, imply the erasure of the space in which collective claims-making practices on the part of service users take place.
  • The discourse of independence, well-being and choice is partial and conditional: it applies only to some, and with independence and adulthood comes the conditionality of responsibility.

Producing ‘community’

  • The third set of extracts I want to consider focus on the enhancement of the citizen’s role in sustaining community and solidarity.
  • While public participation and involvement are key themes running through the modernisation of mainstream services such as health and social care (see Barnes et al. 2007), in local governance notions of voluntary and civil activity and ‘deliberative’ participation come to the fore.
  • Work (or rather, paid work) is not just the route to economic inclusion for the individual, it has wide consequences.
  • Tensions, exclusions and erasures Active citizenship, as I have argued, comprises multiple – and contradictory – discourses and practices.
  • Second, I want to highlight the multiplicity of discourses and the tensions that this multiplicity produces – and the possibility that such tensions might fail to be resolved around a unified figure (see ‘tensions’ below).

Erasures and silences

  • A focus on policy discourse can suggest not only the kinds of subject summoned by new governmentalities of citizenship, but also the discursive work of exclusion and the erasures of other forms of citizenship identity and citizenship practices.
  • The summoning up of new forms of active citizenship, especially the individual citizen-consumer and individualised worker citizen, potentially erases more collective forms of identity and agency.
  • This reminds us that the attempt to form a new economic settlement for a global age based around the worker citizen and the mobilising the active citizen in the uk 119 citizen consumer rests on particular images of the nation and the maintenance of its borders.
  • Second, choice sustains social solidarity by keeping better off patients and parents within the NHS and public services….

Displacements

  • The consequences of these attempts to disrupt earlier social settlements, and the images of the citizen on which they were inscribed, are difficult to assess.
  • This is in part since the prime audience for many of the reforms traced here are public service and local government professionals/managers who are to take on new roles of empowerment, mobilisation, activation and pedagogy.
  • The authors have traced elsewhere how such professionals and managers translate new discourses, aligning them to professional goals and organisational missions (Clarke et al.
  • These processes of displacement are profoundly depoliticising, bracketing away potentially ‘disruptive’ forms of agency (as has been the case where civil society or third-sector groups become service delivers and so come to prior- mobilising the active citizen in the uk 121 itise managerial imperatives imposed by the contract over value-based missions).

Active and activist citizens

  • The active citizen, then, is a flexible and resourceful worker, discharging her responsibilities in family and community and becoming a good consumer in the new marketplace of health and social care.
  • As the authors argued in Barnes et al. (2007), new spaces in which citizens are invited to participate are not readily containable by governmental actors, but may produce new forms of social and political action.
  • This may all seem a long way from a discussion of active citizenship and social welfare, but I include it since I think it throws into sharp relief the limited conceptions of both ‘active citizenship’ and ‘welfare’ in current policy frames and governmental programmes of reform.
  • Department of Health (2005), Independence, Wellbeing and Choice, London: Department of Health.

Responsibility as a relational concept

  • The articles in this volume did not, however, stop at the conclusion outlined above.
  • Similarly, Barnes shows that carers in England do not deny their responsibilities; however, they want to be recognised as actors and subjects in their own right, not just as those enabling the care of others.
  • They also fail to address the dynamic ways in which responsibility is ‘shared’ between state and citizen, with the state often taking on additional roles in empowerment, development and regulation as well as moving towards coercion, conditionality and/or retreat.
  • But participation, like responsibility, cannot be considered solely as a set of governmental discourses: it also denotes a wide range of struggles for inclusion into and for the transformation of the public sphere, whether local, regional, national or transnational.
  • Kuhlmann contrasts the inclusion of user representatives in new governance arrangements – legally defined, and limited to groups with high levels of formalisation – with self-help and voluntary groups committed to an old- active citizenship 189 er discourse of empowerment, whose discourses can be traced back to the medical counterculture and the women’s health movement of the 1970s.

Tensions

  • Imperatives to enhance participation thus give rise to a number of tensions, one of them being tensions between the claims put forward by active and activist citizens and the claims recognised in policy.
  • Women’s enhanced voice – as service users, carers, responsible members of communities and civil society – may thus not lead to enhanced power in the public domain.
  • Different discourses of choice may also be directed towards different groups of users (with some being viewed as needing more support) and different publics (with choice being viewed active citizenship 191 as an attractive option for those wishing to free themselves from state control and professional dominance).
  • In the Netherlands, choice was also extended in the 1990s in ways that expanded citizens’ roles in ‘demand-steering’ in order to put pressure on insurance companies.

Citizens’ perspectives on choice

  • As the ethnographic data shows, marketbased reforms do not necessarily meet the desires of citizens, carers or service users.
  • Vabø shows there are few signs of consumer behaviour among the elderly in Norway, and Newman points to the low take-up of individual budgets among the elderly in the UK.
  • Barnes discusses the limited choice that carers in the UK are experiencing: consumerist forms of empowerment tend to be offered to users not carers.
  • Such identities may well be rejected by citizens themselves (see also Clarke et al. 2007).

Choice without consumerism

  • Firstly, there is choice in terms of autonomy over one’s own life.
  • So, just like the coupling of participation and responsibility, the coupling of participation and consumerist choice marks a shift towards individualising rhetorics and logics.
  • She shows how different expressions of active citizenship – choice, responsibility and participation – are combined in different ways, producing two dynamics: one of expansion and inclusion, and one of division and selection.
  • Barnes’s interviews with carers suggests the resilience of notions of justice in struggles around care, and the continued processes of challenge and opposition on the part of carers – both on their own behalf and on behalf of those they care for.
  • Moreover, the chapters in this volume also point to what seem to be decisive issues: professional and institutional processes of mediation, and the gender dimension of active citizenship concerning changing configurations of public, private, personal and political.

State-Market

  • This set of categories signifies the allocation of powers and responsibilities between sectors.
  • It does not work as a ‘pure’ binary: most typologies recognise the significance of civil society, the so called ‘third sector’ and, in some feminist work, family.
  • Across this volume the authors have highlighted a number of different marketising logics, including contracts, vouchers, purchaser-provider splits and outright privatisations of public services.
  • One common theme highlighted in the different studies is the transformative potential of active citizenship – how it prepares welfare systems for marketisation and makes managerialism somehow more acceptable (see in particular Kuhlmann, Vabø).
  • The proliferation of new organisational forms that work across the categories of state and market (e.g. public private partnerships or social enterprises) tend to make it more difficult to see precisely what is public about new service configurations.

Collective-Individual

  • Collective/individual is often mapped directly onto state/market, but refers not to sectors but to cultural patterns of identification and action.
  • A dominant argument here is that the reorganisation of state services around market logics brings with it a transformation of the discourses through which identities are summoned, with collective universalism shading to individualised consumerism.
  • One is the increasing tendency towards citizenship being viewed in individualistic, rather than solidaristic, terms; as consumers rather than as participants, as an individual rather than a relational subject (Newman, Vabø, and De Leonardis on Lombardy).
  • Public bodies and public service staff, then, can play important roles in summoning, constituting and supporting collective solidarities.
  • They may also contribute to more individualising logics.

Personal-Public

  • Throughout this volume the authors have emphasised the shift of responsibility from public to personal as welfare states have divested functions and roles to individuals, families and communities.
  • Rather than empowerment, the authors may witness, in some countries at least, a process of handing over responsibilities from governments to carers, families, communities and to citizens themselves as choice makers and commissioners.
  • A second area of entanglement between public and personal is the strategy of personalisation in the service relationship.
  • The personal, then, is not just a matter of individual, private lives but is also the focus of political and cultural practices (Barnes & Prior 2000).
  • The increasing place of religion in public life and of faith groups in welfare provision means that notions of responsibility are being reworked.

Personal-Political

  • In the same way that public and private are defined in and against each other, rather than being absolute categories, so ‘political’ has tended to be defined as the antithesis of ‘personal’.
  • Delegates and participants of the numerous public participation forums mentioned by their contributors (and elsewhere – see Barnes et al, 2007; McDermont et al. 2009) are asked to leave their personhood and individuality behind and to become the ‘abstracted’ citizens noted by Neveu when they engage in political debate.
  • Implicit in these endeavours is a feminist agenda of active citizenship that the authors want to make explicit in this final chapter: to analyse the gendered consequences of welfare state reform in terms of everyday life experiences of (women and men as) citizens, clients and professionals.
  • The authors have suggested the contained and diminished focus of the ‘active’ of active citizenship but also shown that this does not necessarily map on to the identifications of citizens and their everyday acts of citizenship.
  • Her research interests cover welfare state change, care services for children and older people, care regimes and social services.

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Participation, Responsibility
and Choice
Summoning the Active Citizen
in Western European Welfare States
care &
welfare
A  U  P A  U P 
Edited by Janet Newman
and Evelien Tonkens
care &
welfare
care &
welfare
Participation, responsibility and choice are key policy framings of
active citizenship, summoning the citizen to take on new roles
in welfare state reform. Participation, Responsibility and Choice:
Summoning the Active Citizen in Western European Welfare States traces
the emergence of new discourses and the ways in which they take up
and rework struggles of social movements for greater independence,
power and control. It explores the changing cultural and political
inflections of active citizenship in Germany, Finland, Norway, the
Netherlands, France, Italy and the UK, with ethnographic research
complementing policy analysis. The editors then look across the
volume to assess some of the tensions and contradictions arising
in the turn to active citizenship. Two final chapters address the
reworking of citizen/professional relationships and the remaking of
public, private and personal responsibilities, with a particular focus
on the contribution of feminist research and theory.
Janet Newman is Emeritus Professor, Faculty
of Social Science, The Open University, UK.
Evelien Tonkens is Professor of Sociology at
the University of Amsterdam.
www.aup.nl
9 7 8 9 0 8 9 6 4 2 7 5 2
Newman and Tonkens (eds.)
Participation, Responsibility and Choice
ISBN 978 90 8964 275 2

Participation, Responsibility and Choice

CARE & WELFARE
Care and welfare are changing rapidly in contemporary welfare states.
The Care & Welfare series publishes studies on changing relationships
between citizens and professionals, on care and welfare governance, on
identity politics in the context of these welfare state transformations, and
on ethical topics. It will inspire the international academic and political
debate by developing and reflecting upon theories of (health) care and
welfare through detailed national case studies and/or international com-
parisons. This series will offer new insights into the interdisciplinary
theory of care and welfare and its practices.
series editors
Jan Willem Duyvendak, University of Amsterdam
Trudie Knijn, Utrecht University
Monique Kremer, Netherlands Scientific Council for Government Policy
(Wetenschappelijke Raad voor het Regeringsbeleid WRR)
Margo Trappenburg, Utrecht University, Erasmus University Rotterdam
previously published
Jan Willem Duyvendak, Trudie Knijn and Monique Kremer (eds.): Policy,
People, and the New Professional. De-professionalisation and Re-professio-
nalisation in Care and Welfare, 2006 (ISBN 978 90 5356 885 9)
Ine van Hoyweghen: Risks in the Making. Travels in Life Insurance and
Genetics, 2007 (ISBN 978 90 5356 927 6)
Anne-Mei The: In Deaths Waiting Room. Living and Dying with Dementia
in a Multicultural Society, 2008 (ISBN 978 90 5356 077 8)
Barbara Da Roit: Strategies of Care. Changing Elderly Care in Italy and the
Netherlands, 2010 (ISBN 978 90 8964 224 0)

Participation,
Responsibility and
Choice
Summoning the Active Citizen in
Western European Welfare States
Edited by
Janet Newman
Evelien Tonkens

Cover photo: © Mikkel Ostergaard/Hollandse Hoogte
Coverdesign:SabineMannel,NEONgraphicdesigncompany,Amsterdam
Lay-out: JAPES, Amsterdam
ISBN 978 90 8964 275 2
e-ISBN 978 90 4851 343 7
NUR 741
© Janet Newman & Evelien Tonkens / Amsterdam University Press,
Amsterdam 2011
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved
above, no part of this book may be reproduced, stored in or introduced
into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means
(electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without
the written permission of both the copyright owner and the author of
the book.

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