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The public service ethos and union mobilisation: a case study of the public library service

Davies, Steve 2012. The public service ethos and union mobilisation: a case study of the public library service. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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After thirty years of neoliberal public sector reforms involving the increased use of the private sector and the import of private sector methods, in many respects, the public sector is barely recognisable from when Mrs Thatcher was elected. This study is about one specific part of the public services – the public library service – and is analysed in the context of the wider picture of change in the public services. In particular, the focus of the thesis is the attitude of library service workers to the public service ethos (PSE), whether and how it informs their attitude to their work and its potential for use by their union in mobilisation. The thesis addresses three research questions: • Has the public service ethos survived? And if it has, what does it mean for workers? • Is there a relationship between commitment to the public service ethos and union membership and activism? • Could the union utilise the ethos in its campaigning? And, if so, how? Starting from a theoretical discussion of the origins and meaning of the PSE and a discussion of the relevance of mobilisation theory, the study highlights three key areas. First, there is an examination of whether workers in the public library service believe that a PSE exists and, if so, what it means to them. It is demonstrated through qualitative and quantitative data, including a survey of union members in the library service that it is both alive and well and a significant influence on how they view their working life. Secondly, there is an analysis of whether there is a relationship between union activism and commitment and a belief in the PSE. Connected with that is a debate about the utility of the PSE as an aid to mobilisation at the workplace. Thirdly, there is a discussion of the relevance of the PSE to unions’ wider campaigning, given their expressed aim of drawing on external power resources through alliances with service user groups. The study shows that public service workers continue to believe in a PSE, offering their union the opportunity to associate itself with it, thereby distinguishing itself from the employer and strengthening the union both within and outside the workplace.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z719 Libraries (General)
Funders: Richard Benedict Fund
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2013 10:54

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