Questioning Post-Political Perspectives on the Psychological State: Behavioural Public Policy in the Netherlands

Mark Whitehead, Rhys Jones, Jessica Pykett

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Abstract

Behavioural public policy is associated with the rising influence of psychological and behavioural sciences on systems of government. Related policies are based on the assumption of human irrationality and use a series of often unconsciously oriented policy tools to pursue varied public policy goals. This paper argues that existing critical analyses of behavioural public policy can be categorized as post-political in their orientation. Post-political theory is primarily concerned with how political consensuses, particularly around expert forms of government administration, tend to close off opportunities for political contestation and challenge. Drawing on an empirical case study of emerging forms of behavioural public policy in the Netherlands, this paper challenges some of the core assumptions of post-political critiques of behavioural governance. The case of the Netherlands is also used to challenge the often absolutist assumptions about the nature of the political, expertise, and consensus that characterize post-political forms of inquiry more generally.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)214-232
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironment and Planning C: Government and Policy
Volume38
Issue number2
Early online date21 Aug 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2020

Keywords

  • Behavioural public policy
  • Netherlands
  • post-political

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