Over fifty years ago, Albert Hirschman argued that dissatisfied consumers could either voice complaint or exit when they were dissatisfied with goods or services. Loyal consumers would voice rather than exit. Hirschman argued that making exit easier from publicly provided services, such as health or education, would reduce voice, taking the richest and most articulate away and this would lead to the deterioration of public services. This book provides the first thorough empirical study of these ideas. Using a modified version of Hirschman's account, examining private and collective voice, and viewing loyalty as a form of social investment, it is grounded on a dedicated five-year panel study of British citizens. Given government policies over the past decade or more which make exit easier from public providers, this is a timely publication for all those who care about the quality of government services.
Keith Dowding is Professor of Political Science in the School of Politics and International Relations, Research School of Social Sciences and Director of the Research College of Arts and Social Sciences at the Australian National University. Peter John is Professor of Political Science and Public Policy, School of Public Policy at University College London.