Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Claimants And Two Way Mirrors.

        Still on the insidious subject of state surveillance of the population, the more you dig the more reprehensible the state's actions become. What is more, we pay for all this surveillance on our movements with taxpayers money, all this surveillance pours tax payers money into the pockets of private companies, who no doubt will use the information for their own commercial ends.


        The following extract shows another devious low and duplicitous aspect of the state's desire to manufacture compliance and subservience, with this particular form being targeted at vulnerable claimants. When you troll the cesspit of state surveillance you find it has no end to its depth of depravity, it is a bottomless pit of duplicity aimed at control of the population.

Two Way Mirrors.
         I regularly write to raise concerns about the current government’s misuse of psychology in public policies and research. There has been a shift towards the formulation of targeted, prejudiced, class contingent policies which have the central aim of “changing behaviours”  and enforcing “compliance” and conformity. This behaviourist approach has some profound implications for democracy. It constrains autonomy and curtails the basic liberties of targeted citizens, whilst excluding them from any political consideration of their human rights. 
      On the government website, a contract finder notice for the “Provision of Research Laboratory Facilities” for the Department for Work and Pensions says:
        “The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) requires research to be undertaken, in a research laboratory environment, with recipients of the Carers Allowance and recipients of the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA).
In a typical lab situation DWP shall have one DWP researcher in a room with the participant and other DWP researchers (if appropriate) and invited observers behind a two way mirror evaluating what is happening. As well as viewing the interview they can also see the activity on the web screen via monitors in their room.
The proceedings are currently recorded on MP4 for subsequent use when research findings are being reported. The participants cannot see the people in the viewing facility though they know they are there. There needs to be flexibility to be able to undertake the research in the North West and Leeds and be able to recruit for participants to attend a Government Lab set up at Aviation House in London WC2B 6NH.” 
       Northern Voices T/A The Talking Shop is a Manchester based market research and public opinion polling company that has been awarded the contract in June this year. This company will be paid up to £60,000 for experimenting on sick and disabled claimants, using covert observation from behind a two-way mirror, studying eye movements, facial expressions and body language. 
       Eye movement measurements are frequently used, though controversially, in criminal psychology, too, as a somewhat unreliable method of “lie detection.” Questions arise regarding precisely how eye movements, perception and cognition are related, and to date, this question hasn’t been answered by academics. 
           It struck me that the experimental set up is very reminiscent of the social psychology experiments conducted in the 60s and early 70s to study social conformity and obedience to authority. However, the welfare “reforms” were specifically designed to coerce people claiming welfare into conformity – “to do the ‘right thing'”-  and compliance with a harsh “conditionality” regime and ever-shrinking eligibility criteria. It’s hardly a secret that the New Right Conservatives and neoliberals have always loathed the welfare state, and along with the other social gains of our post-war settlement, it is being systematically dismantled.
          The wider context is significant, both in terms of its impact on individual citizen’s experiences and behaviours, and on the way that theory is formulated to conflate  and align citizen’s needs with neoliberal outcomes, and this is also reflected in how research is being designed and used.
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