To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Consuming work: front‐line workers and their customers in Jobcentre Plus

Patrice Rosenthal (The Management Centre, King's College, London, UK)
Riccardo Peccei (The Management Centre, King's College, London, UK)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Article publication date: 1 December 2006

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a conceptual and empirical analysis of the rationale and enactment of consumer discourses in reformed British welfare administration, through a focus on consumption and the service interaction. The paper aims to explore how administrators use these discourses to manage consumption in particular ways in order to promote individual enterprise and employability, and analyse the pivotal role of front‐line workers in these efforts.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws from range of data sources collected in a case study of Jobcentre Plus, including analysis of public and internal documents, observation of six public offices and interviews with 13 front‐line staff.

Findings

Images of customer sovereignty are used alongside heightened control to try to shape claimants' motivation and capacity for work. Front‐line staff, mainly endorse reformed structures, but their view of claimants is complex, departing from the images fostered by administrators.

Research limitations/implications

The paper highlights the importance of context‐specific understanding of deployment of consumer discourses in public sector, but interview data are exploratory and further research is needed.

Practical implications

The paper highlights complexities inherent in customer orientation in welfare administration and the pivotal role of front‐line in reforms.

Originality/value

The paper provides a distinctive approach to analysis of customer concept in public sector reform, through focus on consumption and the service interaction.

Keywords

Citation

Rosenthal, P. and Peccei, R. (2006), "Consuming work: front‐line workers and their customers in Jobcentre Plus", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 19 No. 7, pp. 659-672. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513550610704680

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited