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Professor of Geography at Aberystwyth University

Behaviour Change – A Wiki-Glossary

While working in the complex field of behaviour change studies we have encountered a lot of misunderstanding about apparently shared terms (including the notion of behaviour change itself). We believe that it is useful, where possible, to develop a transparent language for behaviour change studies. In this spirit we have decided to build  a (wiki) glossary of what we feel are key terms in the field. This wiki-glossary is by no means meant to be definitive: it is merely a reflection of our own, imperfect, understanding of these terms.  We also hope, in the spirit of wiki-based knowledge, that as this glossary grows it can be changed and adapted on the basis of the comments that we receive from the people who read this blog. So please feel free to tell us what you like and dislike about our emerging glossary and assortment of definitions.

To get things going, here is our first definition of neuroliberalism (a key guiding concept for our project):

Neuroliberalism /nyoo-roh-lib-er-al-ism/ noun & neologism. A term first coined by Engin Isin in 2004 to describe the ways in which anxiety (in the form of neuroses) can be used to govern people’s behaviour. The term has now developed a broader meaning. Although there is no agreed upon definition of the term, it is used within the social sciences to denote the ways in which the sciences of the mind (such as behavioural psychology) and brain (neuroscience) are informing systems of government in neoliberal societies. In many ways the term is best understood as a play on the word neoliberalism. Neuroliberalism is thus suggestive of a type of approach to government that still adheres to the neoliberal priorities of a market-oriented society that values freedom in personal affairs (its liberalism component). It does, however, also indicate a vision of society within which the government of free individuals is based upon much more complex, psychologically grounded, understanding of the motivators of human behaviour than has traditionally been promoted under neoliberlism (its neuro component).

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