SPA 2012 Symposium

Three members of the Time4Research Network have had their proposal for a time banking syposium accepted.


Symposium Abstract

Time banking is where participants are paid in time for the reciprocal exchange of skills and services in both community and institutional settings.  Since its introduction to the UK in 1998, it has adapted and evolved alongside popular policy discourses. It first found favour under New Labour for its association with social exclusion, an idea which has been perpetuated within the research literature to date.  More recently time banking has been adopted by ‘Big Society’ debates, with one time banking organisation receiving Cabinet Office support to develop various initiatives.

Whilst research into time banking has been limited, there is a growing interest in the field, demonstrated by the establishment of the Time Bank Research Network: the launch event was held in October 2011 and funded by the SPA. This symposium was one product of that successful event, and aims to start a conversation about current research in this new area. It brings together current PhD research from a number of different time banking projects to explore evidence of their outcomes, their implications for public service reform and some of the tensions that arise from time banking theory when time banks are brought into the ‘Big Society’.

Time banking: an example of not-evidenced based practice

Ruth Naughton-Doe
University of Bristol, School of Policy Studies

Time banking has attracted the attention of government, policy makers and funders gaining increasing popularity in the context of discourse about ‘the Big Society’ and ‘responsible citizenship’. Time banking is an intervention where participants are paid in time for the reciprocal exchange of skills and services in both community and institutional settings.  There is a wealth of anecdotal evidence suggesting positive outcomes of time banking for the individual, including growth of community spirit, and an influence in health and well-being.

However, there is a surprising lack of evidence about the outcomes of time banking. Despite having existed as a social intervention for nearly thirty years, the extent and quality of the current research evidence base is surprisingly weak. This is concerning as time banks are becoming increasingly popular without any evidence of what works.

The research presented in this paper seeks to address this deficit, by first presenting a comprehensive literature review of time banking using a realistic evaluation framework to unpack context-specific theories from complex social interventions. It critically examines the evidence that time banks have positive benefits across the domains of individual, community, public services and society.

The paper then presents the pre-test results of the first survey attempting to measure the outcomes of time banking over time from a baseline. The survey was co-produced by time bank stakeholders and the researcher knowledge drawn from the literature review.

Timebanking with young people: co-producing within institutions?

Olivia Pearson
Cardiff School of Social Sciences

Time banking has been developing across the UK for over a decade and has recently witnessed extraordinary growth in both England and Wales. With growing support from the Coalition Govement under the auspice of ‘Big Society’ and Welsh Government’s citizen-centered services, time bank organizations are being funded to develop innovative uses of the model within public services.   Seeking to radically alter how young people engage with their communities, one such initiative has been set up in a South Wales secondary school to facilitate greater community, parent and student engagement. This paper will offer a brief history of the movement in England and Wales before introducing research with young people into the use of time banking within their school. Drawing on empirical data collected from a case study of timebank operating in a secondary school, using participatory methods with young people and semi-structured interviews with parents, staff and other stakeholder’s, the paper will discuss why time banking has been adopted in such a setting and examine how it has been developed and implemented in this setting. This paper will highlight two conclusions drawn from early analysis of the data. Firstly, young people views and experiences of timebanking and co-production within the school, and mapping these against the expected outcomes of the scheme. Secondly, it provides some commentary on issues around developing time banking within institutional settings.

Co-producing the Big Society? Exploring the practical and theoretical potentials of time banking

Lee Gregory
Cardiff School of Social Sciences

Co-production and time banking are inextricably linked, but despite some engagement with Time Banking by the previous Labour government, the idea has seen increased attention under the auspices of the Big Society, the Coalition Governments, or at least David Cameron’s, core idea for government. But do time banks and the Big Society truly align so neatly? This paper concludes this symposium by drawing on research into health care initiatives which utilise time banking to consider firstly how time banking operates in relation to health outcomes, before considering issues around the development and implementation of time banking and co-production within public service providers. Drawing on data collected from case studies and an action research project a more complex understanding of time banking is first presented before moving on to consider what insights can be offered on the relationship between time banking and the big society. An exploration of this relationship illustrates first the danger to time banking: that it is being co-opted into a neo-liberal, laissez faire approach to public services. But as will be shown time banking contains the potential for radically rethinking public service delivery provided it can resist this co-option into the Big Society.


Posted on April 23, 2012, in Conference Presentations. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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