Whistle While You Work (For Nothing): Positive Affect as Coercive Strategy – The Case of Workfare

Note to Government: don’t let petty considerations like morals or ethics get in the way of manipulating and coercing the very public whom you’re meant to serve.

Centre for Medical Humanities Blog

In this post, Lynne Friedliand Robert Stearnlook at the role of  psychological coercion, notably through the imposition of positive affect,  in UK Government workfare programmes. There has been little or no debate about the recruitment of psychology/psychologists into monitoring,  modifying and/or punishing  people who claim social security benefits. This silence raises important ethical questions, including about the relationship of psychology to the medical humanities.

Whistle while you work (for nothing): positive affect as coercive strategy
– the case of workfare [1]

WORKFARE

The growth and influence of discourses of positive affect in systems of governance and ‘technologies of the self’ has been widely observed.[2]  ‘Strengths based discourse’ is a significant policy imperative in health and welfare reform[3] and underpins  ‘the application of  behavioural science and psychology to public policy’ via the UK government’s Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) or ‘nudge unit’.  Positive affect plays an important supporting…

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