The citizen in charge? Fragile attempts to ‘democratise’ healthcare

The citizen in charge?  Fragile attempts to ‘democratise’ healthcare

Why does citizen participation sometimes have a substantial influence on the design of the local care offer, while it sometimes turns out to be a fruitless exercise? We examine the efforts of professional care providers to involve citizens more actively in organising their services. How do they challenge established boundaries in care?

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In this project, I investigate how advocates for citizen participation try to make more room for it within their own care organisation. I investigate how various views on what participation is – or what it should be – converge within participation processes in long-term elderly care in the Netherlands. I base myself on an ethnographic study in which I followed two care organisations for a long period of time while they gave substance to their policy ambition to create space for citizen participation. For two and a half years, I observed both ‘internal’ consultations and meetings with participating citizens, and spoke with the various parties involved in these processes. I show how established boundaries in health care are challenged during this process, but also the vulnerability of participatory processes – even when they can count on broad support.