The politics of punishment and blame: in-work conditionality

Worryingly, claimant participation in the Trial is mandatory. There is clearly no appropriate procedure to obtain and record clearly informed consent from research participants. Furthermore, the Trial is founded on a coercive psychopolitical approach to labour market constraints, and is clearly expressed as a psychological intervention, explicitly aimed at “behavioural change” and this raises some serious concerns about research ethics and codes of conduct. It’s also very worrying that this intervention is to be delivered by non-qualified work coaches.The British Psychological Society (BPS) have issued a code of ethics in psychology that provides guidelines for the conduct of research. Some of the more important and pertinent ethical considerations are as follows:Informed Consent.Participants must be given the following information relating to:• A statement that participation is voluntary and that refusal to participate will not result in any consequences or any loss of benefits that the person is otherwise entitled to receive.• Purpose of the research.• Procedures involved in the research.• All foreseeable risks and discomforts to the participant (if there are any). These include not only physical injury but also possible psychological.• Subjects’ right to confidentiality and the right to withdraw from the study at any time without any consequences.Protection of ParticipantsResearchers must ensure that those taking part in research will not be caused distress. They must be protected from physical and mental harm. This means you must not embarrass, frighten, offend or harm participants.Normally, the risk of harm must be no greater than in ordinary life, i.e. participants should not be exposed to risks greater than or additional to those encountered in their normal lifestyles. Withdrawing lifeline support that is calculated to meet the costs of only minimum requirements for basic survival – food, fuel and shelter – as a punishment for non-compliance WILL INVARIABLY cause distress, harm and loss of dignity for the subjects that are coerced into participating in this Trial. Participants should be able to leave a study at any time if they feel uncomfortable.

Source: The politics of punishment and blame: in-work conditionality

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