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Department of Social Anthropology


Behavioural insights argues that through a proper, evidence-based understanding of those deviations one can “nudge” people towards a particular decision. In the last decade the British government has increasingly used behavioural insights to interpret citizens and social actors, produce policy, define targets, incentivise compliance and sanction outliers. This project asks: what kinds of ethical discourses do behavioural economic consultants deploy? What kinds of projects do they get involved in or not? What disciplines, regimes of knowledge and kinds of expertise do they claim or draw on, and what kinds of socio-technical devices do these involve (algorithms, rhetoric, big data, econometric regressions…)? How do they incorporate, reconcile or supersede canonical understandings of transparency, objectivity, impartiality, and other ethical categories peopling contemporary understandings of “good governance”?