An interpretive perspective on co-production in supporting refugee families’ access to childcare in Germany

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The arrival of large numbers of refugees in Germany since 2015 has led to unprecedented levels of civic participation in service delivery. This is supported in integration policy, including through local coordination. We connect this empirical case with the conceptual debate on co-production, adopting an interpretive approach. We explore how volunteers and local coordinators interpret encounters between civic and state actors in the context of co-producing support received by refugee families in gaining access to childcare. Based on 20 interviews, we distinguish three types of experiences: collaborating towards common aims, where both sides value collaboration based on complementary abilities; contesting exclusion, where volunteers confront state actors in cases of conflict; replacing services, where volunteers feel obliged to perform tasks they interpret as the state’s responsibility. Our findings illustrate the value and limitations of co-production in practice, including in relation to establishing adequate sharing of work between civil and state actors.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolicy and Politics
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)283-300
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 01.04.2022

Bibliographical note

This work was supported by the Lower Saxony Ministry of Science and Culture under Grant 76251-28-1/18.

Publisher Copyright:
© Policy Press 2022

    Research areas

  • Politics - Germany, civic participation, civil society, co-production, early childhood education and care, implementation, integration, refugees