اعتراض به پاسخگویی عمومی:اکتشاف گفت و گوی پاسخگویی و مسکن اجتماعی
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Volume 23, Issue 3, April 2012, Pages 230–243
This paper analyses the interaction between neoliberal inspired reforms of public services and the mechanisms for achieving public accountability. Where once accountability was exercised through the ballot box, now in the neoliberal age managerial and market based forms of accountability predominate. The analysis identifies resistance from civil society campaigns to the neoliberal restructuring of public services which leads to public accountability (PA) becoming a contested arena. To develop this analysis a re-theorisation of PA, as a relationship where civil society seeks to control the state, is explored in the context of social housing in England over the past thirty years. Central to this analysis is a dialogical analysis of key documents from a social housing regulator and civil society campaign. The analysis shows that the current PA practices are an outcome of both reforms from the government and resistance from civil society (in the shape of tenants’ campaigns). The outcome of which is to tell the story of the changes in PA (and accountability) centring on an analysis of discourse. Thus, the paper moves towards answering the question – what has happened to PA during the neoliberal age?
“I think 20 years from now we will realise that council housing was actually quite a good thing with locally owned housing with local accountability and sustainable forms of management.” Colin Wiles, chief executive of King Street Housing Society (Inside Housing, 2007) The past 30 years have seen reforms to the public services across the globe according to neoliberal principles (Harvey, 2005 and Saad-Filho and Johnston, 2005); pursued in the form of deregulation, privatisation and the extension of market mechanisms over service provision. This process has been examined from many perspectives in the accounting literature1 but one aspect has been almost completely absent from these examinations.2 As the neoliberal reforms have been rolled out, they have also generated resistance in the form of a variety of social movements. These movements have occurred across the globe; for example, the right to water campaigns in South Africa and Veracruz, Mexico or the right to housing in Mombasa or the health campaigns in Cabo, Brazil (Newell and Wheeler, 2006). In the UK the same processes are at work in campaigns against City Academies3 and in favour of maintaining the NHS (National Health Service) in public hands. An important motivating factor and area of contestation in these campaigns is the question of accountability. As the market is extended across public services the mechanisms of public accountability (PA) change from democratic and bureaucratic forms to managerial and market-based forms (Law, 1999 and Goddard, 2005). It is this process of reform and resistance in public accountability, specifically in the context of social housing, which is the focus of this paper. The marketisation and neoliberal reforms of public services (Harvey, 2005 and Whitfield, 2006), have impacted on social housing (as much as any other part of the public sector) in the UK. Including the right-to-buy policy and attempts to privatise large slices of council housing in the form of LSVTs4 (Large-scale voluntary transfers) (Daly et al., 2005). LSVTs have had a variety of impacts for those whose homes have been transferred to private housing associations (e.g. higher rents and eviction rates). In relation to PA there is a transition from local authority housing committees with democratically elected members to management boards of private not for profit organisations. However, this transition has also generated resistance in the form of tenants’ campaigns and other groups such as Defend Council Housing (DCH)5 and the House of Commons Council Housing Group (HOCCHG).6 It is argued here that the existing literature on public accountability (PA) only partially addresses these neoliberal changes and ignores the resistance from service users they have generated. This paper posits an alternative approach drawn from the development studies literature (Newell and Wheeler, 2006 and Newell, 2006). It conceptualises Critical Public Accountability (CPA) as a “…dynamic social relationship through which civil society seeks to control and challenge the state” ( Smyth, 2007: p. 29). By adopting a Critical Realist approach ( Bhaskar, 1989, Fleetwood, 2004 and Sayer, 2004), with an emphasis on a stratified emergent reality and a subtle understanding of the structure/agency dichotomy, CPA also embraces a range of research tools that enables a robust analysis of accountability relations. Thus, defining PA in these terms, space is opened up for an exploration of this multifaceted concept in its social context. The paper is divided into two parts – the first discusses the intersection of neoliberalism and public accountability, setting out the generative mechanisms of the former and their impact on the latter. Two key points become evident. First, the neoliberal reforms have generated resistance from civil society groups. And second, that those reforms have sought to extend governance by elites and experts (Harvey, 2005), displacing existing democratic forms of accountability. This section concludes by setting out the foundations of CPA. The second part shows how PA has become a contested arena between the state (in this case the Housing Corporation7) and civil society (House of Commons Council Housing Group). Documents from both organisations are analysed using a dialogic approach, where their utterances on accountability are compared and contrasted. Dialogic method ( Bakhtin, 1981) 8 argues that each utterance is composed of tension-filled competing meanings that reflect broader socio-economic and historical forces, such as the marketisation of public services. In addition, in both the literature review and the document analysis the role of tenants in accountability relations and governance is highlighted. Building on the foregoing the paper concludes by identifying the need to study civil society campaigns’ impact on accountability mechanisms. This is not just to fill a gap in the literature, but also as examples of agents who are challenging neoliberal policies both locally and nationally, a form of accounterability ( Kamuf, 2007).
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
The major aim of this paper has been to illustrate the contested nature of PA as the product of broader socio-economic processes, in which the dialogical method informed by classical Marxism and critical realism has been framed. In the process this paper has introduced the concept of Critical Public Accountability, where civil society seeks to challenge and control the state. While it is beyond the scope of this paper, the impact of tenants’ campaigns could be analysed through a series of in-depth case studies looking at campaigns where the tenants stopped transfer and where they did not. This forms the next step in a research agenda that seeks to develop CPA into a fully rounded theory. More broadly CPA can be applied beyond the case of social housing to look at resistance from service users to neoliberal reforms in other public services. Examples could include the campaign to keep the NHS in public hands or the Anti-Academies Alliance. 40 We can also see the same process of neoliberal reform and related resistance across the globe, as Newell and Wheeler (2006) have noted. A struggle, which is ongoing and will influence future forms of accountability in the public services and provides a departure point for future studies. Finally, Kamuf's (2007) concept of accounterability is reflected in this paper in two ways. Firstly the paper has shown how PA is a contested arena where different meanings over control and transparency, participation and representation clash. These meanings have been shown to have real social roots and are expressions of wider social processes (e.g. the neoliberal reforms of the state and the reaction among sections of civil society). This leads to the second reflection that there are social movements, civil society campaigns who mobilise people on the basis, although not exclusively, of struggling for a different type of accountability. Some researchers have a pessimistic perspective on such struggles. Ranson (2003: p. 476) rather exasperatingly questions: Where is such a democratic accountability to emerge from when the public sphere is within the iron design type of neoliberal corporate regulation? The arguments in this paper seek to counter such pessimism. Thus, the significance of studying these clashes between civil society campaigns and the state is to highlight the actual activities of real people as the agents for change in relation to public accountability.