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Title: Government and the Perverse Social Defence
Author: Paul Hoggett

Abstract: Part of Isabel Menzies Lyth’s legacy is the concept of social defence. This article examines the perverse social defence, recently hypothesized by Susan Long, and deploys the concept in a critical exploration of aspects of the modernization of the public services in the UK. It is argued that the ‘targets and indicators’ culture constitutes a perverse defence which fosters the development of an as if relationship between government and reality. The article explores the damaging impact of this defence upon the capacity of government and society to stay in touch with the suffering generated by increasing social inequalities.

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