Culture Wars in Public Sector Services

Competing narratives held toward members of target groups served by public schools and public agenies
                                                               Jon S. Matthew, Ph.D.
                                                                      May, 2009
Strict social control narrative                                      “Do-gooder” narrative
  Focus on safety risk                                                    Focus on individual feelings
  The subject is maltreating others                                 The subject is being maltreated by                                                                                                    others
  The subject is a member of a suspect class                 The subject is a member of a                                                                                                     protected class
  Emphasize danger, liability, and onerous burden       Emphasize specialness of the person

  Emphasize intolerable behavior                                  Emphasize the pain and suffering of the person                                                                                             
  Assume guilt                                                                       Assume innocence
  Seen as having evil motives                                        Seen as victim of circumstance
  Seen as out-of-control                                                 Seen as being unable to help it
  Needs a guard and to be put somewhere                    Needs acceptance and understanding                                                                                                                           
  Focus on saving the group                                          Focus on saving the person
  Use government to force exclusion                            Use government to force inclusion
Now ask yourself:
            1.  Which of these is right?
            2.  How do these affect your decision making in any given situation?
            3.  What effect do these have on the members of the target group?
            4.  How do these two parties affect each other?
            5.  What’s wrong with this picture?
            6.  How do we get beyond this?
Original Published Date: 
May 2009