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Title: New public management, citizenship and social work : children’s services in Germany and England
Author: Bain, Katrin
ISNI:       0000 0004 2695 6393
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis examines the citizen-state relationship in the context of the modernisation of public services as effected by New Public Management (NPM). It explores the extent of the impact of one element of NPM - the shift towards representing service users as consumers or customers - within children’s services in Germany and England. Two qualitative case studies, one of a German and one of an English children’s social service, were conducted. The studies examined conceptions of citizenship in relation to parents who were users of these services by analysing national and local policy documents, local organisational procedures and by conducting semi-structured interviews with managers and social workers, partly based on the use of vignettes. These studies found that in children’s services, the impact of NPM is mainly at the organisational level with regard to elements of NPM other than consumerism. As far as consumerism is concerned, the studies demonstrated that this element of NPM is not central to an understanding of contemporary state-citizen relationships in this field and that the consumerist version of citizenship has had little impact. Rather than being a singular concept, citizenship was revealed as being open to a number of interpretations and formulations. In each country five different conceptions of citizenship were identified. These were ideal-type conceptions that served as discursive resources on which politicians, managers and social workers drew in different combinations, depending on the specific situation and wider context. Although there has been research on the impact of NPM on children’s services, there has previously been little consideration of its consumerist agenda, especially with regard to conceptions of citizenship that come into play in relation to parents as service users, as representations of state-citizen relationships in this field. The conceptions of citizenship that have the most impact on parents as service users derive from different understandings of the family and parenthood in the German and English contexts. Parenthood in Germany is a legal status that includes both the responsibility for the safe upbringing of one’s children and the right to receive support from social services. Parents are perceived by social workers as being the holders of these responsibilities and rights. In contrast, parenthood in England is an identity. In their contact with social services, English parents are perceived solely as their children’s carers, to the extent that they are referred to and addressed directly as ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ by social workers. The thesis concludes that the findings demonstrate that policy initiatives, organisational structures and social work practice impacting on state-citizen relationships are shaped by the wider historical and political context from which they emerge. Accordingly, rather than emerging from consumerism as a dominant paradigm, conceptions of citizenship vary; they are complex, competing and contested conceptions and they combine in a variety of different ways.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Warwick. School of Health and Social Studies (SHSS)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare ; JN Political institutions (Europe)