New article at Apolitical with Neela Saldanha and Cait Lamberton. Read the full piece here.
Typically, they invite individual citizens to steer themselves into labelled boxes, or else get them to jump through one-size-fits-all hoops. People with different stories, needs and wants end up waiting in line to submit easily sorted information about who they are, and more often than not are treated as numbers, rather than as people.
The UK Parliament’s International Development Committee is running a new inquiry on the philosophy and culture of aid.
I provided a short evidence submission to their inquiry, on dignity in development. You can read it here.
A brief extract:
If you run a business in Hargeisa, Somaliland, here’s how you pay your taxes. A group of men, some of them armed, turn up at a time of their choosing. They make an arbitrary calculation of what they can get from you, and send you off to wait for hours to pay. They may arrest you or your employees without warning, or shut down your shop. Women face sexual harassment. People are not treated as equals, they have no choice or chance to consent. They are not recognised as dignified humans.
In April 2020, we surveyed 407 members of SurveyMonkey’s panel of US non-profit professionals. 79% were personally committed to raising dignity with their colleagues, as an issue where they could do better. That reinforces our sense that this is a moment for dignity — a time when a longstanding rhetorical commitment can result in real and lasting progress toward respectful treatment for all.
We found a sector committed to real change, and a set of practical evidence-based ways to build cultures of dignity.
Thanks to Shelmith Kariuki, Mark Mills and Jo Meredith Hardy for their assistance with this work.
Some brief research on treating patients with dignity and respect in the NHS:
“It is possible to be more or less respectful. The role of measurement is vital in tracking our progress, and it is a great shame that the survey is no longer conducted. The Dignity Project hopes to encourage institutions to routinely measure how respectful they are being of people’s dignity, in healthcare settings and beyond.
Equally important is in developing recommendations to be more respectful. The improvement among hospital staff shows that it can be done — but the variations by care setting, place, deprivation and disease…
The Heywood Foundation works on innovations in public policy, in memory of one of the UK government’s most affectionately remembered civil servants, Jeremy Heywood.
They’re running a competition to identify key challenges or opportunities presented by the pandemic and its consequences, and innovative responses. I laid out how the UK could put dignity into the heart of its work, and some of the urgent social challenges that would address. Here’s my essay.
Bureaucracies routinely fail to see the full humanity of the citizens they are built to serve (Scott, 1998). That disrespect is common and it is harmful. Philosophers tell…
Is there already a measure for that? How can you find existing social science measures, rather than having to improvise your own? Here is an (incomplete) list of reference databases.
Here’s a few things I wrote this year:
Dignity in Kenya:
What messages help prevent violence against children?
I’m not sure the full write-up is as clear as it might be, so to summarise: Raising Voices has used several different taglines in its media campaigns on preventing violence against children. To see which ones show the most promise, we tested them experimentally with 589 Kenyan respondents.
A message about people’s own actions — “What are you doing to prevent violence against children?” — was most likely to persuade people to ask the…
Yesterday, Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta gave his seventh State of the Nation speech to parliament. He took as his theme the “poverty of dignity” he observed across the country.
The Dignity Project is a campaign for more respectful development — for more see dignityproject.net. What did Mr. Kenyatta say about dignity, and what did he miss?
The scholarship on dignity says this: everyone has dignity. Because they have dignity, they are entitled to respect. The best ways of showing that respect are by ensuring they have representation, agency and equality. …
We all know that good M&E looks at actual changes in the world — impact, not activity. Yet anyone who’s tried to actually build an M&E system knows that sometimes you don’t have that data. Especially for systems change, influencing or sector-wide efforts, it can be really hard to know how much progress you’re making.
There’s one nice solution that I’ve used in a couple of M&E systems now, and which I think has some promise: convening a panel who give ratings on your progress towards an objective.