Aesthetic Dimensions of Music-Initiated Processes in Co-Production

Aesthetic Dimensions of Music-Initiated Processes in Co-Production

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-4975-9.ch011
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This chapter offers an aesthetic approach to co-production processes at a micro level to understand how citizens, social care professionals, and researchers contribute to developing music- and empowerment-based tools for citizen involvement in social-psychiatric care. The chapter draws on empirical material from a research-circle-based project about dream workshops within a Danish municipal social-psychiatric care unit. The chapter addresses music as supporting empowerment within the processes of co-production of citizens' action plans, and music is understood as an aesthetic dimension of these processes. The chapter includes a pragmatic research perspective on knowledge and experience building and generation of empirical insights, drawing on Dewey and Bruner, realized in the research circle method.
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Over the last decade, collaborative approaches to welfare services have gained increasing interest, claiming to provide an alternative to New Public Management (NPM) in the public sector. The NPM approach has left its mark on systems, institutions and organizations, and is characterized by an explicit focus on fiscal accountability, performance measurement, efficiency, and process regulation. Critical voices have pointed out the potential alienation of citizens in relation to public sector institutions (Gouillart & Hallertt, 2015) when NPM-inspired language and logics, where citizens are seen as “customers” in relation to the public sector, are prevalent (Sørensen & Torfing, 2018). These NPM dynamics are seen as reducing the public sector institutions and staff to mere “service providers” for resourceful citizens on the one hand, and, paradoxically enough, as power instruments, limiting individual flourishing for citizens in weak social positions on the other (Wiesel & Modell, 2014). In the social sector, a tendency to focus on personal deficits in the citizen rather than on resources in the community has also been seen as a general outcome of the “one-size-fits-all” approach to public services (Osborne, 2018).

Based on the above challenges, both public sector organizations and researchers in the field have called for new ways of creating development, citizen involvement and community building within public sector organizations to respond to the above one-sided views on citizens, knowledge and quality. Given this, approaches have emerged that embrace empowerment, democratic knowledge and capacity building (Banyan, 2015; Stringer, 2013), community building (Noya et al., 2009), collaborative innovation (Halvorsen et al., 2005; Lewis et al., 2014) and co-production (Bovaird & Leoffler, 2012; Pestoff, 2018). These are often identified as signs of the mega-trend New Public Governance (NPG). Concentrating on co-production as the most recent example (although the term was coined already in the late 1990’ies (Ostrom, 1996)), all of the above trends focus on both interactional processes and their outcome. The process perspective focuses on collaboration between the public sector front staff professionals and citizens, with the aim of developing (more) legitimate and effective welfare services that are co-produced by means of active participation and distributed decision making (Pestoff 2018). However, this aspect of active participation seems to challenge both citizens’ and professionals’ roles and relations, because questions are raised about who participates in what, and how and why this should happen (Tuurnas, 2015).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Roles of Citizens and Professionals: Positions that are not as much consciously undertaken by the citizens and the professionals themselves as they are enacted and guided by tacit expectations, organizational demands and structural habits and routines.

Aesthetics: Referring to the concrete, sensorial encounter between the surrounding world and a human being. Body, senses and thinking processes are interrelated when learning and gaining knowledge.

Co-Production: The idea that a public service is citizen-led and centered on the citizens’ processes of learning and change, and that citizen and professional contribute with ideas, actions, and assessment on equal terms.

Embodiment: Relates to the way in which the subject of knowledge is the body, and how knowledge is articulated and learned by means of action and practice.

Empowerment: Approach to development that focuses on the resources in a given situation, context and community, and that regards every person as a resourceful, unique individual contributing to the community.

Sensuous Awareness: The ability to focus on sensuous impressions in (professional) situations and relational work, being aware of e.g. citizens’ body or face expressions or tone of voice in dialogues.

Music: Human activity shaping time by means of rhythm and harmonies, occasioning social bonding and often wellbeing.

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