The UK Government’s recent ‘hostile environment’ immigration policy is mirrored to a greater or lesser extent in many formalised state-citizen interactions, ranging across areas as diverse as justice, taxation, public health and social assistance. A (negative) behavioural economics model of human behaviour has becomes a dominant paradigm in the design and implementation of policies across a range of areas, and there is mounting evidence that these are neither supporting societal nor individual well-being. There are beginning to be calls for new frameworks which focus more on emotional intelligence and include value-based outcomes such as feeling loved, safe, and respected. To this end, Alison explores how ‘a practice of ease and kindness’ might help policy makers and social scientists move towards such frameworks. Such a practice inevitably leads us to question how useful an ‘average-person’ indicator can be, in spite of the prevalence of its use across many aspects of public policy. It also highlights the problems of presuming and imposing a model of human behaviour onto individuals, where there is a clear mismatch to their situation in that moment.
Dr Alison Koslowski
Alison Koslowski is Professor of Social Policy and Research Methods at the University of Edinburgh. She has a longstanding research interest in gender equality and parenting and caring practices. She is one of the editors of the annual International Review on Leave Policy and Research and has recently published a co- edited book Parental leave and beyond: recent international developments, current issues and future directions with Policy Press. She is also a co-editor of the journal Families, Relationships and Societies. This talk sees her exploring a line of inquiry which seeks to bring together her experience as a yoga teacher and as a social scientist.