Participation Beyond the Ballot Box by Usman Khan
By Usman Khan
Participation past the poll field is a great addition to the literature on democracy and the function of civil society. It demonstrates that new mechanisms being brought in Western Europe can and do supply the aptitude to seriously boost the democratic strategy.
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Extra info for Participation Beyond the Ballot Box
However, those who support the exit option as a means of personal empowerment, argue that it enables people to make choices for themselves, rather than being reliant on bureaucrats, so-called experts, monopoly suppliers or collective decisions where they may disagree with the decision taken. The exit option, it is argued, also encourages suppliers to be more responsive to their customers for fear of losing out to other suppliers. Expanding or introducing market or market-type mechanisms into services which were previously under monopoly state control will increase efficiency and help to empower consumers.
Public bureaucrats, be they administrators, teachers, hospital doctors, social workers, social security clerks or whatever, control the process of service provision in ways that protect and further their interests at the expense of service consumers. And as the New Right politician and former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher never tired of saying, monopoly state provision can produce dependency among consumers of services or recipients of benefits. Moreover, traditional state provision leads to the oversupply of goods and services, which rarely meet people’s needs in any case.
Villadsen, S. (1993) “Another century for local democracy? Decentralisation, deregulation and participation in Scandinavia in times of European integration”, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 17, 1, pp. 42–55. Weir, S. and Hall, W. (eds) (1994) Democratic Audit: Extra-governmental Organisations in the United Kingdom and their Accountability. London: Charter 88 Trust. Wilks, S. (1996) “Sweden”, in Flynn, N. and Strehl, F. (eds) Public Sector Management in Europe. Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf.