Recent reforms of the state have focused on creating new patterns of state-society relations around the public provisioning of social and other services. If the first generation of reforms focused on macro-economic stability and, more often than not, entailed reducing public expenditures, subsequent (2nd generation) reforms have focused on public services and have been guided by a trinity of decentralisation, citizen participation, and the pluralisation of providers.
These reforms have sought to increase the responsiveness and quality of services by breaking the power, often monopoly power, of relatively centralised public provisioning, with reforms that are believed to give users greater power and leverage. Decentralisation, participation and pluralisation, it is argued, offer choice and bring decision making about service provision more ‘proximate’ to end users or clients, who as a consequence have greater ability to hold providers accountable and demand more or better quality services (Batley 2004). Proximity between providers and users/clients is expected to lead to greater accountability and responsiveness (World Bank 2004).
More information is available from the Centre for the Future State website.