Psychological Governance and Public Policy: Governing the mind, brain and behaviour, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Psychological Governance and Public Policy

Governing the mind, brain and behaviour, 1st Edition

Edited by Jessica Pykett, Rhys Jones, Mark Whitehead


158 pages

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Paperback: 9781138624214
pub: 2018-06-15
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pub: 2016-10-28
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There have been significant developments in the state of psychological, neuroscientific and behavioural scientific knowledge relating to the human mind, brain, action and decision-making over the past two decades. These developments have influenced public policy making and popular culture in the UK and elsewhere – through policies and emerging social practices focussed on behavioural change, happiness, wellbeing, therapy, resilience and character. Yet little attention has been paid to examining the wider political and ethical significance of the widespread use of psychological governance techniques. There is a pressing and recognised need to address the behaviour change agenda in relation to how our cultural ideas about the brain, mind, behaviour and self are changing.

This book provides a critical account of existing forms of psychological governance in relation to public policy. It asks whether we can speak of a co-ordinated and novel shift in governance or, rather, whether these trends are more simply pragmatic policy tools based on advances in scientific evidence. With contributions from leading scholars across the social sciences from the UK, the USA and Canada, chapters identify practical, political and research challenges posed by the current policy enthusiasm for particular branches of affective neuroscience, behavioural economics, positive psychology and happiness economics. The core focus of this book is to investigate the ways in which knowledge about the mind, brain and behaviour has informed the methods and techniques of governance and to explore the implications of this for shaping citizen identity and social practice.

This groundbreaking book will be of interest to students, scholars and policy-makers interested and working within geography, economics, sociology, psychology, politics and cultural studies.

Table of Contents



Notes on contributors

  1. Introduction: psychological governance and public policy.

    Jessica Pykett, Rhys Jones and Mark Whitehead

  2. The politics of silent citizenship: psychological government and the ‘facts’ of happiness

    William Davies

  3. Happiness as resource and resilience: an emotion for neoliberal times

    Sam Binkley

  4. Therapeutic governance of psycho-emotionally vulnerable citizens: new subjectivities, new experts and new dangers

    Kathryn Ecclestone

  5. Psychology as practical biopolitics

    The Midlands Psychology Group: John Cromby, Bob Diamond, Paul Kelly, Paul Moloney, Penny Priest and Jan Soffe-Caswell

  6. ‘What about the children?’ Re-engineering citizens of the future

    Val Gillies and Rosalind Edwards

  7. The imperative to shape young brains: mindfulness as a neuroeducational intervention

    Alberto Sánchez-Allred and Suparna Choudhury

  8. Behavioural science, randomized evaluations and the transformation of public policy: the case of the UK government

    Peter John


About the Editors

Jessica Pykett is a social and political geographer at the University of Birmingham, UK.

Rhys Jones is Professor of Human Geography at Aberystwyth University, UK.

Mark Whitehead is Professor of Human Geography at Aberystwyth University, UK.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Place, Space and Politics

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Geography
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Human Geography