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Addressing the Practical and Ethical Issues of Nudging in Environmental Policy

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Nudging refers to the subtle design of the context of choice in a way that mobilises the unconscious mind and alters human behaviour predictably. Nudging has been criticised for entailing numerous practical and ethical problems, including manipulation, elitism and cultural insensitivity. To respond to the problems, participatory and deliberative procedures have been proposed that would enable the questioning of the power relations embedded in behavioural governance. Yet participation and deliberation are themselves characterised by unconscious behavioural influences. I argue that awareness of the prevalence of unconscious behavioural influences in environmental governance is a prerequisite for tackling the complex practical and ethical issues of nudging. I show that unconscious behavioural influences permeate environmental governance and outline analytical approaches for revealing them.
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Keywords: Nudging; behavioural prodding; cognitive linguistics; common pool resources; practice theory

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: June 1, 2016

More about this publication?
  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2020) of 2.518. 5 Year Impact Factor: 2.313.
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