RECENT EVENTS we have participated in:
“Emotional Governance: New Geographies of Social Policy and State Intervention” sessions convened by Jessica Pykett, Eleanor Jupp and Fiona Smith at the 4th International and Interdisciplinary Conference on Emotional Geographies, Groningen, July 2013
‘Neuroliberal Climatic Governmentalities’ Keynote Given at the European Cooperation in Science and Technology Conference – Governing the Global Climate Polity. Lund, Sweden, June 2011
‘The brain and behaviour in public policy’ Welsh Council for Voluntary Action, All Wales Residential Network Event. Llandrindod Wells, 9 June 2011
‘It’s the Brain Stupid’ – Presented to Environmental Policy Seminar, Welsh Assembly Government, May 2011
‘Geographies of the Psychological State’ Association of American Geographers Annual Conference, Seattle, April 2011
‘Vulnerable Subjects. Constructing the feminized subjects of soft paternalism’ Politics of the Brain conference, University of Westminster, 3rd May 2011
Invited participant at the House of Lords Science and Technology Sub-Committee Inquiry on Behaviour Change. Seminar on “Ethics and Behaviour Change”, Westminster, 10th February 2011
At the Association of American Geographers Annual Meeting, Washington DC, 14-18 April 2010, Jessica will be presenting a paper: “Governing Behaviour and the re-scientisation of decision-making”.
This paper will look at the way in which new insights from behavioural economics, psychology, neurosciences , neuroeconomics, and (in the field of ‘pro-environmental behaviour’) research from the discipline of geography are used in the justification of libertarian paternalist modes of governing.
These insights pertaining to the systematic mistakes, ‘predictable irrationality’ (Ariely, 2008), emotional determinants (Le Doux, 1994; Damasio, 1996) and instinctive bodily aspects (Gladwell, 2006) of human action are integral to developing the policies and programmes of behavioural and cultural change which characterise contemporary government practice in the UK (e.g. Cabinet Office 2004; 2008).
Drawing on documentary analysis, in-depth interviews with policy strategists and case study research, this paper considers how decision-making is conceptualised by protagonists of libertarian paternalism, the mechanisms used within libertarian paternalist initiatives to shape the time-spaces in which we make decisions, and the political implications of a post-enlightenment culture of governing in which the sciences of decision-making are king.
Jessica is also organising 2 sessions on “Cultures of governing, governing culture, governing by culture” which explores changes and trends in contemporary/historical cultures of governing, the application of new techniques of governing and attempts to govern culture, for instance, through arts initiatives, public spaces such as museums, galleries and libraries, the creative industries, fahion, media, literature, sports, religion, consumption and so on.
UPDATE: My AAG conference plans were scuppered by some volcanic dust
* Jessica presented a paper entitled “Changing Behaviour through Personalisation and Re-education” at the Political Studies Association annual conference, Edinburgh, March 2010
* We organised a conference session at the Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG) conference, Manchester, 26-28 August 2009 on the theme of ‘Governing Temptation: the emerging geographies of soft paternalism’. Speakers included: Professor Janet Newman, The Open University; Dr Margo Huxley, The University of Sheffieild; and Dr Nick Gill, Lancaster University.
We discussed some of the following questions:
– How are soft paternalist policies currently being implemented and narrated, and by what kind of institutions?
– What are the political motivations for and implications of the rise of soft paternalist polices?
– What historical precedents demonstrate the principal characteristics of soft paternalism, and how do these differ in different countries/regions?
– How do these ‘behaviour changing’ policies reconfigure (or indeed rely on) the spatial and temporal nature of state-citizen relations in terms of responsibility and action?
– How do notions of soft paternalism challenge our conceptions about the character of governmentality and the negotiation of different kinds of citizen identities in the contemporary liberal state?
– How do citizens respond to such policies? To what extent to citizens seek to regulate themselves with regard to these policies, and how are alternative citizen identities produced in resistance to soft paternalism?
Speakers, conference participants and others are invited to respond to the following short statement. The aim is to give others an opportunity to shape questions for discussion, identify keywords and concepts, and draw out some common themes and divergent positions on the role of libertarian paternalism in the UK today.
Libertarian paternalism is a new form of governing in the UK. It denotes the shaping of the contexts in which people make decisions. It is novel in the sense that it seeks to govern both through the irrationality of the human subject and by developing more reflexive, competent and independent citizens able to make better choices towards their own wealth, health and happiness. It operates through sometimes contradictory mechanisms rather than by pursuing an overarching political rationality.