I'm speaking at University of East London on 6th February, at a seminar entitled Security, Community & Democracy. My talk will be developing some of the ideas from my recent piece on neo-communitarianism:‘Experiments in Community: Relational Government and Audit After Neoliberalism’.
The neoliberal era is – or was – characterised by the extension of economic modes of evaluation into new corners of social, cultural and political life. Various critical scholars noted that it either eradicated the ‘social’ realm as a distinct terrain of action, or else re-imagined it in ways that was supportive of the ‘economic’. But in the wake of various crises of neoliberalism, the ‘social’ has reappeared with its own logic, as ‘social media’, ‘social prescribing’, ‘social enterprise’ and so on. Policy-makers have re-discovered the social, not simply as an economic ‘externality’, but as a psychological or neurological resource, which facilitates wellbeing and behavioural rationality. But what sorts of evidence, audit and evaluation will be required to realise new forms of ‘relational government’? What does it mean for a policy to ‘succeed’, if not in a purely economistic sense? The paper will suggest that audited field experiments in community and behavioural policy, accompanied by data analytics, represent a key methodological basis for governance in the emerging era.
Hope to see you there!