Going beyond the state of the art: receiver-doer-judge

  • Essential
  • 28.01.2023

INVOLVE goes beyond the existing approaches to theorizing the impact of inequalities on trust and participation that focus on specific elements, such as citizens’ economic resources, time or networks, thus offering only a limited view at the various components of this complex relationship.

INVOLVE uses a multidimensional encompassing theory of human action based on the three dimensions of ‘Receiver’, ‘Doer’, and ‘Judge’, allowing a more holistic understanding of the complex relationship.

The ‘receiver’ dimension emphasizes that all human beings are vulnerable and in need of social, economic or relational support, which can be provided via (social) services. INVOLVE’s focus lies on overlapping vulnerabilities stemming from age, gender, social class, income, social mobility, (mental) health, migration status, rural-urban and digital divides. These inequalities prevent individuals from feeling fully included in a democratic society. Thus, properly addressing the ‘receiver’ dimension is an essential precondition for tackling political inequalities.

The ‘doer’ dimension insists that human beings are also agents, individuals capable of acting on their own and to usefully contributing to society and the economy. The ‘doer’ dimension is strongly reflected in participation. The effective exercise of the ‘doer’ dimension in different areas of life has a direct relation to political participation. From this perspective, a public service that supports, allows and empowers people’s inclusion can promote trust and participation.

The final, ‘judge’ dimension includes two components. First, individuals can form their own preferences and aspirations about how to live their lives, rather than adapt to dominant norms or expectations about how they should behave. Second, they should be allowed to voice these preferences and aspirations and to make them count during collective decision-making processes; in other words, they should be allowed to take part in the construction of society, for example by having a say in the content of public policies or in the definition of the most appropriate ways to implement them. Thus, enhancing experienced voice and procedural fairness in welfare services boosts citizens’ political participation and trust.

With this holistic understanding, INVOLVE analyzes inequalities and trust and participation in the context of public and social services and realizes a framework to enhance welfare services and participation.


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