Unsettled Connections: Citizen, consumers and the reform of public services

Clarke, John (2007). Unsettled Connections: Citizen, consumers and the reform of public services. Journal of Consumer Culture, 7(2) pp. 159–178.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1469540507077671

URL: http://joc.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/7/2/15...

Abstract

This article explores some of the conditions and consequences of the centrality of the figure of the consumer in recent public service reform in the UK. New Labour's view of the modern world as being defined in part by the rise of a consumer culture or consumer society locates the figure of the consumer at the heart of its programme of public service reform in the decade from 1997. Drawing on a recent study of public services, the article considers the impact of this consumerist model of reform on the relationships between public service organizations and their publics, drawing out three particular sites of strain that mark the shifting relationships between the public and services. These are the tensions between rights, resources and rationing; the links and disjunctures between choice and voice; and the tangled formations of knowledge and power.

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