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Conception and mechanisms providing accessibility of social services (education and cultural sectors)

2008
Department: Centre for Financial and Economic Decisions in Education

Most researchers agree that certain social groups have limited access to social services and these limitations have social as well as financial and territorial aspects. Recent developments in social sectors and the implementation of policies aimed at eliminating barriers made it possible to increase access to education and cultural services for various social groups, however in some areas, these barriers are still very strong. Further development of information and communication technologies has created a new context to research the issue of educational accessibility. The purpose of this research is to develop a conception and mechanisms to assure the accessibility of social services in the educational and cultural sectors.

The study is focused on the managerial aspects of reorganizing public service networks to ensure the accessibility of high-quality social services irrespective of a customer’s level of income and/or place of residence.

The research investigates the hypothesis that sustainability of the network depends on the following parameters, determining the socio-economic viability of rendering services to certain institutions of the social sector:

  • Value of a service for consumers that is the acquired benefit;
  • The price paid by the government and consumer to an institution for its services;
  • The costs of consuming a social service incurred by the consumer directly (payment for access) and in the form of time spent consuming the service;
  • The costs of institutions spent to provide a service.

Working hypotheses on mechanisms of social service accessibility were tested using the example of Priazha District in the Republic of Karelia. In the context of the research, we have made integral estimates of accessibility and carried out analysis of formalized estimates of accessibility and expert analysis correlation.

In the context of the research, we have worked out approaches to determine the social, financial (income), information and territorial accessibility of services education and cultural sectors.

A separate part of the study is connected with the analysis of social group differentiation depending on access to services, detected trends of differentiation abatement or intensification, and analysis of repercussions for discriminated social groups, which leads to a set of proposals to overcome these negative trends.

The unique aspect of this work consists of building a concept of accessibility that covers all factors – social, information, financial, territorial, and demographic – to ensure the quality of services and management efficiency. As part of the concept we have developed some proposals for institutional change and management tools to be used in the interests of various social groups and to open channels of social mobility.

The formation and operation of those networks are also influenced by socio-cultural traditions, historic and climatic specifics, institutional authorities and management structure, and the spatial organization of these networks is based on combination of several major models – core, node, cell and step models. At the same time, these models have significant differences: core and node models belong to the class of descriptive models, portraying evolutionary development of service networks following the changes in spatial organization of settlements and their relations, whereas the cell and step models are classified as normative models.