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Taking Complaints Seriously: The Role of Informality in Complaints About Public Services

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 August 2011

Jackie Gulland*
School of Applied Social Science, University of Stirling E-mail:


Recent discussion in the UK has focused on proportionate dispute resolution to deal with people's problems with public services. Complaints procedures, which are seen to be user-friendly and informal, have been held up as good examples of proportionate dispute resolution mechanisms. Most complaints procedures include an informal first stage where, it is argued, most complaints should be resolved but there is little research evidence about what happens at this stage. This article looks at the informal stage of complaints procedures from the perspective of social care service users and considers some of the issues raised by informality.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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