We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing

Previous Events

This lecture has been rescheduled - Wolfson Guest Lecture - Relationships of Consumption: co-production and interdependence in user relationships with public services by Professor Andrew Gray

6th July 2012, 12:30 to 14:30, F009, Wolfson Seminar Room, Wolfson Research Institute, Durham University, Queen's Campus, Stockton-on-Tees, TS17 6BH



This Lecture has been rescheduled to 23rd November and will be readvertised in September.


Talk of customers in public services has become widespread. Government organisations are awash with 'customer first' initiatives, 'customer relations departments' and job advertisements that call for candidates to 'champion a customer centred approach to service'. Public servants may find this customer service metaphor valuable in drawing attention to and remedying the traditional neglect of the public in public service provision. The term also has the modernising appeal of the private sector. But what service relationships are implied by the use of the 'customer' label?
This talk draws on research into the nature of relationships of consumption of public services, particularly as they relate to health and wellbeing. It includes a conceptual elucidation of users as customers, clients, and customers and the role of co-production and interdependency in these relationships. The analysis suggests that current emphases on customers are conceptually flawed and practically risky. The conceptual flaws lie in failing to appreciate that the critical relationship in consumption is the nature of the interdependence between those who provide and those who consume and that this differentiates customers, client and citizens. These conceptual flaws present immediate practical risks for policy, provision and consumption including in establishing inappropriate relationships that can and do undermine the proper provision and consumption of those goods and services. However, services can be designed and managed in ways appropriate both to their societal function and user interests.


Professor Andrew Gray is Emeritus Professor of Public Management and Honorary Fellow of the Wolfson Research Institute for Improving Health and Wellbeing at Durham University (where he was the founding chair of the School for Health). He is also Honorary Professor in the School of Public and Social Policy at the University of Nottingham, Chair of the Prison and Offender Research in Social Care and Health Network, and was Vice Chair of successive PCTs in County Durham, 2002-2009.  


12:30  Tea/coffee refreshments available - The Street, WRI

13:00  Welcome and Introduction.

13:05 - Guest Lecture by Professor Andrew Gray

14:00  Questions and Answers

14:30  Close


Contact for more information about this event.