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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: July 2019

7 - Nurturing Reciprocity in Public Policy


Reciprocity, if harnessed in the right way, can serve as a force for good, but it can wither and thus needs to be nourished. This chapter suggests three nutrients. First, reciprocity should be emphasised in the political discourse. If we want social structures that support the basic human motivation to reciprocate and hence cooperate, then how they do so ought to be explained clearly. Second, the decentralisation of more of the management of public services to local planners, purchasers and providers is advisable, partly because securing reciprocal motivations and actions and abating egoistical ones is more difficult the larger the group, partly because this would afford greater local level innovation, which, if good results were shown, could be disseminated cross-regionally, and partly because local level actors will be more in tune with the objectives and priorities of the people they serve. Third, there ought to be policy action on reducing the high concentrations of income and wealth within small percentages of the population, because if one wants people to give and take it makes sense to create conditions where they do not feel that others are merely taking.

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