DSA2018: Global inequalities
- Elise Klein (University of Melbourne) email
- China Mills (University of Sheffield) email
- Sally Brooks (University of York) email
The individual's psychology, behaviour, subjectivity has become a targeted domain to address growing inequalities. This panel calls for papers that critically examine how psy-expertise, behavioural approaches and therapeutic cultures exacerbate or mitigate global inequalities.
Minds, behaviour and psychologies are fast becoming key sites to tackle and understand growing inequalities. While development and psy-expertise share intersecting and co-constitutive histories, there has been, of late, a shift to the more explicit mobilisation of psy-expertise, behavioural approaches and therapeutic cultures within development interventions.
This is evident in diverse arenas, from the 2015 World Development Report "Mind, Society and Behaviour'; the inclusion of mental health in the Sustainable Development Goals (target 3.4); and the burgeoning of measurement and policy focusing on subjective wellbeing and happiness. Inclusion has also increased with the growth of technologies and processes of digitisation and data capture, for example in the diagnosis and clinical management of mental health problems, and application of 'nudge' techniques, the shaping of subjectivities to aid financial inclusion, and positive psychology to produce specific behaviours and mentalities such as positive thinking and wellbeing.
To some, the use of psy-expertise, behavioural approaches and therapeutic cultures in development policy is a new way to tackle and understand inequality, increase economic efficiency and promote wellbeing. Others are concerned with its re-inscription of universal, individualist constructions of personhood, its objective of 'correcting' individuals' decision-making, the abstraction of subjective data from their specific context, and the possibility of appropriation by political and economic actors, with neo-colonial implications.
This panel calls for papers that critically examine how psy-expertise, behavioural approaches and therapeutic cultures exacerbate or mitigate global inequalities.
The panel is proposed by the study group on Wellbeing, Psychology and Therapeutic Culture in International Development
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Manifestations of Treatment Seeking in Rural Thailand and Lao PDR and Their Social, Economic, and Technological Determinants: A Comparative Analysis
We challenge global health discourse and speak to the theme of global inequalities through a study of the manifestations and determinants of treatment-seeking behaviour. Our comparative study draws on survey data from 2,400 Thai and Lao villagers and 60 supplementary cognitive interviews.
Inequality enters the global health discourse typically through considerations of "diseases of poverty" and through "social determinants of health"-both of which portray poverty as a risk factor for morbidity and mortality. Much of the language surrounding the underlying mechanisms revolves around information deficits, economic rationality, and psychological arguments, but complementary anthropological and sociological perspectives of structural factors that deprive people of choice, or that ascribe meaning to different healthcare choices, continue to remain peripheral in the global health discourse. By focusing on the constraints of marginalised groups, and the solutions at their disposal to overcome them, this paper contributes to the global health discourse against the thematic backdrop of global health inequalities.
We study the case of treatment seeking in rural Thailand and Lao PDR and investigate the question "What are the manifestations and determinants of treatment seeking in rural Thailand and Lao PDR?" Our analytical framework considers psychological as well as structural factors underlying "problematic behaviour," from which we derive two hypotheses:
H1. Marginalised groups have fewer means to access formal treatment, which increases their likelihood to rely on over-the-counter medicines as an alternative solution.
H2. Technology use increases formal healthcare access but is directed towards for-profit providers.
We test these hypotheses with primary data from a district-level representative health behaviour survey among 2,400 villagers, supplemented with qualitative data from 60 cognitive interviews. The comparative analysis of two neighbouring countries at different stages of economic and health system development thereby offers lessons for development policy.
'Who is really behaving badly?: The Cashless Debit Card and welfare policy in settler-colonial Australia'
I draw on a thirteen-month study of an income management program in Australia. I find that through restricting consumption, the card aims to instil 'responsible behaviour' such as getting a job in the capitalist economy, accumulating private property and succeeding in English education.
By targeting First Nations subjectivities with behavioural conditions, state benefits are a contemporary technology of settler colonisation and assimilation in Australia. In this paper, I draw on a thirteen-month study examining an income management program; the Cashless Debit Card trial in the East Kimberley region, to examine contemporary assimilation in welfare policy. Through restricting cash and purchases to curb alcohol consumption, illegal drug use and gambling, the card aims to instil 'responsible behaviour' such as getting a job in the capitalist economy, accumulating private property and succeeding in English education. Whilst assimilation attempts are made, there is resistance and pushback in the trial site. Attempts of assimilation, not actual assimilation can only be observed. Still, whilst there have been ongoing efforts by governments to use welfare towards assimilation, contemporary welfare policy exposes the intersection between the process of settler colonialism and the empowerment of Australian capitalism. The trial also exposes how assimilation is legitimised by the State in contemporary Australia. Legitimisation includes the promulgation of narratives of First Nations dysfunction, alcoholism, drug use and gambling, constructing evidence of program success through a flawed evaluation process, depoliticising settler colonialism and relational poverty, and propelling narratives of community and consultation to infer a locally led program.
Tolerance of Inequality: Review of Hirschman's 'Tunnel Effect' with Possible Extensions
Hirschman's tunnel effect is used widely to explain a social movement regarding economic inequality. This paper discusses this proposition and provides the possible extensions with an application to the Thai economy.
Along the path of economic development advancement of some groups generates an economic disparity in society: The emergence of both winners and losers invariably give rise to the psychologically economic question of how the losers perceive and respond to the benefits of development. The proposition of 'tunnel effect' proposed by Hirschman (1976) is widely used to explain this changing tolerance of economic inequality in the process of economic development. This paper critically discusses this proposition, review the related literature, and provides possible extensions in the context of the Thai economy. Relating to the Thai experience, two explanations are provided of a prolonged period of tolerance of inequality in terms of unique characteristics of Thai people and the high degree of military intervention.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.