Changing Our Behaviour. What Is The Role Of Government?

  • July 31, 2012 · 6:30 PM
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Can And Should Government Change Behaviour?

Governments of all colours have recently encouraged good citizenship. But what does this mean? Does it mean citizens deciding themselves what their role is within society or does it mean Governments attempting to change behaviour to create the citizens they want?

This meetup is about whether changing behaviour per se is a legitimate aim for government? Is it the role of government to intervene into areas of emotional wellbeing and character development? What are the implications for a free society if they do this?

To help us with this discussion we have three speakers,

Dave Clements is a social policy professional with over a decade’s experience working in local government, and currently responsible for a flagship volunteer-led social media project in London. He is co-author of The Future of Community (Pluto, 2008) and convenes the Social Policy Forum at the Institute of Ideas. Dave writes for publications including The Guardian and Huffington Post.

Peter John joined UCL in September 2011 as Professor of Political Science and Public Policy. He was previously the Hallsworth Chair of Governance at the University of Manchester, where he directed the Institute of Political and Economic Governance. He holds a D. Phil from the University of Oxford. He has overseen a project that uses experiments to study civic participation in public policy, with the aim of finding out what governments and other public agencies can do to encourage citizens to carry out acts of collective benefit. This work comes together in a book with Bloomsbury Academic, Nudge, Nudge, Think, Think: Using Experiments to Change Civic Behaviour published on 26 August 2011. He is planning to carry out more randomised controlled trails to test how the provision of social information can influence citizen behaviour.

Patrick Chalmers is a journalist and author of Fraudcast News — How Bad Journalism Supports Our Bogus Democracies.  You can listen to him talking about Fraudcast News in a “pop-up” interview from last year’s Rebellious Media Conference. Patrick will be joining us from France via Skype.

In face of policy rhetoric about the Big Society and ‘people power’, what happens when unseen experts and policy groups seek to influence and direct adults’ decisions about what they eat, how many units they drink or whether they give up time to help the community. And then again do individuals have a responsibility to consider the wider community impact of their behaviour and when there is a wider impact does this not mean a role for Government?

VisionOntv will be joining us at this meeting to record some vox pops about what we think the role of government should be regarding our behaviour. We are working with VisionOntv to develop a number of projects including some meetings in August at the Global Summit being held then. VisionOntv are helping to develop video citizen journalism so that citizens have a voice in the public square. You can visit VisionOntv here ....

Baroness Neuberger chaired the Science and Technology Committee inquiry into Behaviour Change. Their Report makes some interesting findings about efforts by the Government to change the way we behave. Perhaps the most important thing they say is that to solve the really big problems that face society – like increasing levels of obesity and all the associated health problems, the struggle to meet carbon emissions targets, or antisocial behaviour and knife and gun crime – the Government will need to do more than just “nudge” people in the right direction.You can see what she has to say here.

Join or login to comment.

  • Dave Clements

    I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in this debate. Unlike the nudgers (apart from Peter John of course) and their behaviour-changing friends, I do think the best approach to tackling society's problems (whether its climate change or organ donation) is to debate them first.

    August 4, 2012

  • Marc Barto

    All videos available now in one playlist here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist...­

    August 1, 2012

  • Suzanne Long

    I'm a bit surprised that the assumption was that this question is somehow new. Surely it's been a major focus of political philosophy since the ancient Greeks!

    August 1, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Excellent.

    August 1, 2012

  • Francis Sealey

    Thanks to all those who attended and joined in what was an interesting discussion. There is already a Blog written on the meeting on our Blog site and Onvisiontv did some great vox pop videos at the meeting and the links for all these will be sent out to everyone hopefulloy later today

    August 1, 2012

  • Neil Mukherjee

    Hello Everyone! Following our talk session on Changing our Behaviours: What is the Role of the Government, I am posting a blog on my thoughts on the forum and the discussion that took place yesterday. Your comments are most welcome. With kind regards, Neil. http://roleofthegovernment.blog...­

    August 1, 2012

  • Marc Barto

    Thanks to all for a great event. All videos available on a playlist here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist...­

    July 31, 2012

  • Marc Barto

    and the interview with Alicia: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=...­ Let's hope this will help all of you carry on the debate!

    July 31, 2012

  • Marc Barto

    More vox pops with GlobalNet21 members: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=...­ and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=...­

    July 31, 2012

  • Marc Barto

    Peter John interview by Francis after the event: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=...­

    July 31, 2012

  • A former member
    A former member

    Many thanks, Marc.

    July 31, 2012

  • Marc Barto

    Hi Madison, here is the mic I'm using: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Qtx-Mic...­ as for the adaptor the model varies depending our your phone. We'll have a workshop at Global Summit on the 16th, feel free to join!

    July 31, 2012

  • madison

    Hi Marc, would you post what the cable was called that you use to attach to the smart phones for interviews, and where we can buy both the mic and cable from?
    Many thanks

    July 31, 2012

  • Marc Barto

    You'll find the interview of Patrick Chalmers (FraudcastNews) which was screened during the meeting: http://youtu.be/OuihKUzxU5k­
    More videos of the event coming very soon

    July 31, 2012

  • Marc Barto

    Dave Clements interview by Francis Sealey available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=...­

    July 31, 2012

  • FRANK TAYLOR

    'Can intervene' or 'ought to' intervene? Every activity has a residual hazard ... evn getting out of bed. The 'safety agenda' has now become an all-embracing molloch with armies of civil servants fretting over every minutiae of life.
    The use of the term 'intervene' implies a degree of coercion rather than choice. By all means present us with the menu, although there is no lack of information on good living. This takes us back to the fundament of the relationship between state and people.

    July 31, 2012

  • madison

    And there's the rub, do we trust a government who has, like the last one, proved so far, to be self serving and NOT for the people...

    July 31, 2012

  • Neil Mukherjee

    Let's try to be more frank about this. Yes the Govt does intervene to change habits and behaviours. One reasosn could be to make sure existing behaviours & habits don't affect overspending the budget. But the Govt can also intervene if health issues or people's lives are at the forefront of being at risk. They then enable people have healthier lifestyles or live better lives. There is most definitely a question of trust at play here. Do citizens think the Govt intervenes for the right reasons?

    July 31, 2012

  • Jazz Rasool

    I work with Dave Clements on improving Digital Literacy in Haringey, North London. Some initiative has been taken by the council and some by volunteers to help people become more computer, Internet and Social Media literate. This form of collaboration is what the real 'Big Society' is about. Its not about saving money, its about creating more relevant and empowering opportunities through local coordination.

    July 31, 2012

  • Francis Sealey

    We will make sure everyone finds Marc and we are grateful to visionontv for being there and taking part. Look forward to the interviews.

    July 31, 2012

  • Marc Barto

    Hi all. We'll record short interviews for GB21 at the event. If you want to share your views on the role of government come find me! Marc - visionOntv

    July 31, 2012

  • Penney Poyzer

    hear hear Mark J. Grass roots need to be resilient and that means re-learning some very basic skills such as food growing, composting, re-suing. Resource sharing is key to levelling out the mass consumer, quick-buy mentality. We need grandparents to teach the old skills to the unskilled young!

    1 · July 30, 2012

  • Mark.J

    I agree Stella. The top down government format is outdated. We need a partner state that will support and enable everyones education while fundamentally supporting the move to 'grass-roots syllabus free thinking'. So that involves supporting and promoting grassroots capacity building for that kind of education to grow beyond the syllabus, rote learning, mechanistic education we have today.

    1 · July 30, 2012

  • Stella

    unless government allows grass-roots syllabus-free thinking that lets individual/s develop their own ideas, then government is well and tryly governing us -this is way too cuntrolling

    1 · July 27, 2012

  • Phillip Badger

    Recent issues at the fore include climate change and the need to change behaviour to ensure survival. Behaviour has changed in the UK through 2 main channels: (1) through advertising campaigns from local (& national) government (2) a national curriculum.
    Behaviour change is effective through 'nudges', but I think the gap missing in the psychological argument is that behavioural conditions can positively skew individuals at a much lower age, hence education is key, hence a curriculum is too.

    July 27, 2012

  • Michael

    There appear to be two worlds, ones like this event, with adults from academic, political and business fields discussing the world of adult politics, and the other of citizenship education, participative learning and enterprise with adults and young people who work together. The problem with adults discussing the world of politics and citizenship in the adult world is that they seem unaware of the issues raised by human beings living 18 years of their life without a human rights culture.

    July 26, 2012

  • Neil Mukherjee

    Perhaps this topic can be best answered by attempting to answer the following questions:
    1.) Has the general public 's behaviour patterns diminshed through the passing decades? If so is it our responsibility to improve our own public behaviour?

    2.) If citizens decide to shape their own role in society would they work in a colllaborative way even with differences?

    3.)The people in society need to ensure their rights but do they have any responsiblities or even expectations from the govt?

    July 26, 2012

  • Francis Sealey

    If you would like to tweet on this subject, carry on a conversation, highlight relevant websites then we have set up a hashtag for this meeting at #Behav Use it to follow the debate and indeed even to make tweets at the meeting itself.

    July 26, 2012

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