Within timebanking ‘co-production’ is an important idea.
A market where people are viewed as customers or consumers who purchase services from expert ‘providers’ can be dysfunctional for both service users and providers. Both models rely on defining people by their deficits or needs, creating a culture of dependency. It can be argued that this convinces the service user that they have nothing worthwhile to offer and undermines any system of mutual or community support. According to Powell and Dalton (2003) this division between service users and service providers also devalues ‘non-market [non money-based] transactions’ or informal ways of meeting needs, such as those provided by family and community.
In contrast, co-production recognises people as assets. Co-production aims to:
- Provide mutual support systems that can tackle problems before they become acute, encourage behaviour that will prevent them happening in the first place
- Build social networks that can help people to prevent crime, support enterprise and education, keep people healthy and make things happen locally
- Provide supportive relationships that can help people or families in crisis survive when they cease to receive all-round professional support.
(New Economics Foundation, 2008)
Timebanking is viewed throughout the literature as a practical model for the application of co-production values.