13 May 2008

The Politics of Public Behaviour

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The Politics of Public Behaviour
The UK think tank Demos has launched a new publication, The Politics of Public Behaviour, which explores the role of government in influencing people’s lifestyles and everyday decision-making.


The personal has become political. Increasingly, governments find themselves drawn into questions about how children are parented, how household waste is disposed of, how people travel, how much they save for later in life, and how much they eat, drink, smoke and exercise.

A combination of new challenges and new thinking has given rise to the politics of public behaviour. However, a debate that concerns itself with people’s personal behaviour raises important questions. Where do personal freedoms stop and mutual obligations begin? Which decisions should be public and which private? And how and when should government play a role?

This pamphlet presents three perspectives from different political traditions. Andy Burnham MP, Andrew Lansley MP and Chris Huhne MP offer contrasting views on the public implications of private decisions, and what they mean for the relationships between people and government. The pamphlet concludes with a framework with which to negotiate the politics of public behaviour.

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