Governing Temptation: Changing behaviour in and Age of Libertarian Paternalism

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This paper critically examines new modes of behaviour change promoted by the contemporary British state, providing a critique of libertarian paternalism as an emergent form of government in the UK. We analyse the multivalent principles and mechanisms associated with libertarian paternalism. We consider the contribution of Foucauldian theories of governmentality and psychological power within human geography to a critical analysis of libertarian paternalism. Reflecting on the example of Manual for Streets (DfT, 2007) for re-designing residential roads in the UK, we conclude by explaining why libertarian paternalist policies could lead to the formation of more, or less deliberative public spaces.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)483-501
Number of pages19
JournalProgress in Human Geography
Issue number4
Early online date18 Nov 2010
Publication statusPublished - 01 Aug 2011


  • behaviour change
  • governmentality
  • libertarian paternalism
  • social policy
  • state-citizen relations


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