Ryan, Neal 2001 Reconstructing Citizens as Consumers: Implications for New Modes of Governance Australian Journal of Public Administration 60:3 104-109

Nail on the head: the market model of citizens as consumers is bad. Great advocate for CLDS.

  • 1980s-1990s: emphasis on improving service by creating markets: privatize, make government compete
    • inadequate model for regime of partnerships and cooperation
    • inadequate there isn’t real competition for services
  • “citizen as consumer” hurts citizen-govt relationship
    • redefines relationship as “passive commercial transaction rather than an interactive political engagement” (105)
    • emphasizes “sovereignty of the individual over the public good” (105)
    • market mindset breaks down if market forces (competition, consumer knowledge, etc.) don’t apply
    • oversimplifies relationship: often not voluntary; not simple reciprocation of services for taxes/payment; ignores mutual commitment” (107)
  • Implications
    • “public confidence in government is likely to be higher in circumstances in which there are high levels of participations, engagement and knowledge” (107)
    • surveys great, do more, but don’t allow them to replace real political engagement: ranking preferences on a filtered list of choices created by a pollster still isn’t as good as taking the floor and presenting your own original idea
    • “focus on individual satsifaction diminishes the contribution of public services to building the social capital that may result from a focus on collective relationships” (107)
    • “the language of producers and consumers contributes to notions of elitist government”!!! (107) contributes to impression of govt as “high value producers of services” filled with experts whom the rest of us mere mortals have to sit back and trust and not presume to bother with our humble opinions