Self-reflexivity as a form of client participation: Clients as citizens, consumers, partners or self-entrepreneurs?

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The article suggests that self-reflexive participation should be considered a distinct form of client participation. Self-reflexive participation is an individualized form of participation that occurs through a development-oriented dialogue between the client and a practitioner. In this dialogue, clients reflect on themselves, set goals for the future and devise strategies, thereby improving their self-regulatory potentials. The article discusses important differences between self-reflexive participation and democratic, consumerist and co-productive participation in terms of the form participation takes, the aim of participation, the client role, the resources required from clients to participate, the assumed relationship between the agency and the client and organizational responsiveness. Self-reflexive participation is based on a view of the client as capable and reflexive and it may foster a tailoring of social services to the wishes and life-projects of clients. However, self-reflexive participation is based on the assumption that clients can be empowered through improved skills of self-observation and life-planning. When focus is on these skills, it may gloss over important conflicts between clients and agency and detach questions of client participation from organizational responsiveness and struggles over user control.
TidsskriftJournal of Social Policy
StatusUdgivet - 2019


  • client participation
  • participation
  • Self-reflexivity
  • democracy
  • Coproduction
  • consumerism


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