Despite serious reservations over issues of transparency, accountability, bias, and the like, algorithms offer a potentially significant contribution to furthering human well-being via the influencing of beliefs, desires, and choices. Should governments be permitted to leverage socially beneficial attitudes, or enhance the well-being of their citizens via the use of algorithmic tools? In this chapter I argue that there are principled moral reasons that do not permit governments to shape the ends of individuals in this way, even when it would contribute a positive benefit to well-being. Such shaping would undermine the kinds of ethical independence that state legitimacy is based upon. However, I also argue that this does not apply to what Rawls calls a ‘sense of justice’ – the dispositions necessary to uphold just political and socioeconomic institutions. Where traditional methods of influence, such as education, prove lacking, then algorithmic enhancement towards those ends may be permissible. Mireille Hildebrandt’s fictitious piece of computational software – ‘Toma’ – serves as the point of departure for this argument, and provides many of the insights regarding the autonomic nature of such influence.
Steven Tam and David E. Gray
Mixed methods design can contribute great value to academic research. The purpose of this chapter is to share with readers an empirical HRD study which used both quantitative and qualitative methods as part of the research design. It discusses how the research was designed and implemented, why mixed methods suited the study and what critical insights emerged from the research.
David Howarth and Steven Griggs
Explanations of policy change have generated a number of perennial stand-offs between those who privilege ideas and those who advance interests, or those who foreground agency and those who turn to structures. This chapter rejects such binary oppositions. It demonstrates how poststructuralist discourse theory offers a novel articulation or synthesis of the role of ideas, interests, agency and structures in accounts of policy change. More specifically, it recognises the centrality of politics and power in the forging, sustenance and grip of policy frames or discourses in particular social and historical contexts. In substantive theoretical terms, this emphasis involves the articulation of the concept of hegemony to account for the emergence and formation of policy discourses, and the recognition of the constitutive character of rhetoric, while drawing on Lacanian psychoanalysis and the category of fantasy to account for the stabilisation and grip of policies. In conclusion, the chapter underlines the complexity of the different elements that need to be brought together in order to explain policy change, seeking to trigger debates as to how we might begin to grasp and render comprehensible the ‘messiness’ of the policy process and the practices of policy-makers.
Steven Griggs and David Howarth
This chapter examines how poststructuralist discourse theory can offer new insights into the critical assessment of the transformation, stabilization and reproduction of the practices of governance networks. It begins by setting out the guiding assumptions of the approach of political discourse theory, before exploring their implications for the study of governance networks. In so doing, it foregrounds the political construction of governance networks, and their constitution through acts of power and the drawing of antagonisms. By radicalizing the insights of the Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci, and by drawing on the work of Laclau and Mouffe, the chapter argues that change and inertia in governance networks will thus be the outcome of hegemonic struggles. It investigates the political logics of such hegemonic struggles before analyzing how fantasmatic narratives explain the “grip” of particular governance practices. In conclusion, the chapter sets out the critical and normative implications of political discourse theory, cautioning against hard and fast characterizations of the forms of network governance, which themselves are based on stark binary oppositions. Poststructuralism, it concludes, recenters attention on the everyday “messy” politics of governance networks.