From the nanny state to the avuncular state?

Recent political debates have focused on the importance of shaping personal behaviours, and governing so-called poor moral conduct. Healthy eating, anti-binge drinking, smoking and obesity campaigns; personal pensions default options and carbon offsetting initiatives are all examples of the increasing currency of ‘soft paternalism’ as a novel form of government. As an article in The Economist noted in 2006, a new kind of self-restricting governing has been emerging where people are ‘nudged’ in particular directions. This is not a ‘nanny knows best’ kind of paternalism, but a more avuncular spirit by which people are encouraged to govern their own temptations.

nudge by dominiccampbell@flikr

Jessica

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