Resisting and Dismissing Authority in a Democracy
Many of us in the social sciences long to transfer knowledge across disciplinary boundaries in a way that is true to our discipline yet useful to other disciplines. One way to satisfy this longing is to seize articles that address similar issues from different disciplines and piece them together to forge new intellectual coherence that can push forward the frontiers of knowledge. This seems to be the way in which new fields of study take root. While I applaud this style of scholarship and its development, this book attempts to do something a little different. Over the past two decades, I have been fortunate in being immersed in a research culture that knew little of my home discipline, psychology, but knew a great deal about institutional design, governance and regulation. I was also privileged in being able to work closely with government, not only with senior bureaucrats, but also with the rank and file who do the hard yards in actioning regulatory frameworks. As a foreigner in each of these landscapes, I was struck both by what I knew and what I didn’t know. They were perfect environments for learning a great deal more about how things work. The approach I have taken is to bring together great swathes of quite traditional psychological research and ask how this knowledge might inform scholars, policy makers, regulators and concerned citizens who look to authorities to better coordinate the activities of the society. While acknowledging that occasional pieces of psychological work already make...