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Timebanking is underpinned by the concept of co-production. Edgar Cahn , the ‘father’ of timebanking, defined co-production as a way of thinking about society that values people as assets, recognises unpaid work, and builds social capital through reciprocity. Timebanking is a key mechanism for changing relationships in a way that is integral to co-production.

In research, there are two broad ways of seeing co-production.  On one level, it’s about recognising  unpaid, informal work in our communities. On another level, it’s about public sector reform; putting  services back in the hands of service users, to empower citizens and break the cycle of dependency.

Despite the emphasis on co-production by Cahn, most of the research evidence does not explicitly link timebanking and co-production. However,  evidence suggests that time banking can lead to co-production on both levels. Time banks recognise unpaid work, and furthermore, may lead to  co-production in public services, though it takes time, and there are barriers.

Further reading:

‘Social Care Institute for Excellence’ – an explanation of what timebanking is, and how it works

‘Co-production: A Manifesto for growing the core economy’ – examining and defining co-production, what it is and what it isn’t, and its benefits to today’s economy.

‘An evaluation of timebanking in England : what can timebanks contribute to the co-production of preventive social care?’ – a PhD thesis on how timebanking can work in today’s world.

‘Co-production Scenarios for Mobile Time Banking’ – co-production of social services as a time banking interaction, drawing upon on-going work developing new models for mobile time banking, and new software infrastructures and tools for time banks.


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