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Privatisation of human services and its beneficiaries: Experiences of a decade of change in Western Australia

Harries, Maria Patricia (2002) Privatisation of human services and its beneficiaries: Experiences of a decade of change in Western Australia. PhD thesis, Murdoch University.

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In this thesis, the subject area of privatisation as it relates to the privatisation of human services in particular, is explored. The international and Australian literature on privatisation is examined in some depth and a comprehensive account is given of the development of the language of privatisation and of its adoption in various guises on a worldwide basis. Alongside of this analysis a comprehensive account is provided of cross-disciplinary definitions and depictions of privatisation.

In broad terms, the research purpose was to explore the impact and implications of privatisation on the human service sector in Western Australia with a particular locus in the non-government sector and with a particular focus on perceptions of consumer benefits. A multi-method research design was used. By means of case studies, participant observation, focus groups and questionnaires, the perceptions of people involved in human service policy, planning and delivery were obtained. Importantly, these accounts include data from consumers of human services as well as practitioners and policy makers. The term 'human services' is used in preference to narrower descriptors such as social services and welfare because the crucible for the research was the experiences of the broad not-for-profit sector (including areas such as health, welfare, employment and housing) in Western Australia in the 1990s.

The research identifies the main features of privatisation of human services as they were perceived by a range of people who were involved in human service delivery in Western Australia during a time of significant privatisation initiatives. The result is a rich tapestry of views about changes to human service delivery in which some expected and some unexpected patterns are evident. These patterns are explicated with reference to the sociological theory of Habermas and others.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Division of Social Sciences, Humanities and Education
Notes: Note to the author: If you would like to make your thesis openly available on Murdoch University Library's Research Repository, please contact: Thank you.
Supervisor(s): Baldock, Cora and Harris, Patricia
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