Asset-Based Approaches: Their Rise, Role and Reality

Asset-Based Approaches: Their Rise, Role and Reality

Asset-Based Approaches: Their Rise, Role and Reality

Asset-Based Approaches: Their Rise, Role and Reality

Synopsis

To achieve a fair and just society with positive outcomes for all, there is an imperative to examine both the structural causes of poverty and inequality and the role that public services play in mitigating and reducing their impacts. A 'deficit approach' to the provision of public services has evolved in which services are designed to fill gaps and fix problems. This leads to individuals and communities becoming disempowered and dependent. An alternative lies in asset-based approaches. These change the relationship between the citizen and the state; between those supported by services and those doing the supporting. Asset-based approaches have implications for the structures and culture of public services.The debate is not confined to one specific policy area. The authors consider asset-based approaches as they are developing in Scotland from three broad perspectives: those of public health, community development and social services. They make the case that the fundamental principles underpinning asset-based approaches are common to all three areas and that they all share ambitions concerned with improving health and wellbeing, reducing the inequality gap and improving life circumstances for all. In providing a critical overview of the evidence for asset-based approaches, including the background and rationale for the approach; the current policy, political and economic context; and the implications and opportunities for the workforce, this book will be of interest and use to all those seeking change and improvement in the provision of public services whether from policy, practice or academic perspectives.

Excerpt

Inequality in Scotland continues to grow (Leyland et al., 2007; Thomas et al., 2010; Beeston et al., 2013). If we are to achieve a fair and just society with positive outcomes for all, there is an imperative to examine both the structural causes of poverty and inequality and the role that public services play in mitigating and reducing their impacts.

It could be argued that a model of public service delivery based on a ‘deficit approach’ has evolved – focusing on problems, needs and deficiencies of individuals and communities, designing services to fill the gaps and fix the problems. This leads to individuals and communities becoming both disempowered and dependent. In effect, we continue to generate demand rather than address the root cause of health and social inequality. For politicians, policymakers, practitioners and citizens, it is clear that more of the same will not do. Examining current issues through the lens of an asset-based approach allows us to think differently about the relationship between the state and the citizen, and the service provider and people using services.

This book aims to provide a critical overview of the evidence for asset-based approaches, including background and rationale for the approach, the current policy, political and economic context, and the implications and opportunities for the workforce (health, social services and community development). Particular attention has been paid to the developing debate in Scotland, with lessons and learning drawn from work undertaken nationally.

In recent years discussions about asset-based approaches have started to permeate several areas of public policy in Scotland. The debate originated in the context of public health, largely stimulated by the interest of the (then) chief medical officer (CMO), Sir Harry Burns, whose research recognised the changing nature of disease in society and the importance of well-being and individuals feeling in control of their lives and their social circumstances. He highlighted that, although life expectancy is increasing for the population as a . . .

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