20 July 2010

Social networking and public service provision

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Lee Bryant
I very much enjoyed the reflection of Lee Bryant (Headshift), following the launch of the UK Government’s Big Society initiative.

In it, he argues that in the past, UK politics [and not just UK, I’d say] were dominated by two competing visions of the role of the state:

“One, on the left, saw state provision as the best way to ensure fairness and protect people form the vagaries of the market, and argued for increasing spending on public services. The other, on the right, saw state intervention as contrary to the liberty of its citizens and a poor substitute for market or community provision of services, arguing for a reduction in public spending and a rolling back of the state.”

“We badly need new ideas and new approaches,” he says, “especially since the gulf between rising demands on public services and available funding to meet them is growing ever wider.”

“More than anything, we need approaches that go with the grain of human behaviour and motivation, and which understand that society is comprised of inter-related complex systems, rather than reductionist management control methods.”

He then continues an in-depth discussion about the value of co-design and participation (supported by the PwC / IPPR paper ‘Capable Communities‘), social networks as tools, social networks as contexts, and the future new, socially-networked public services.

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