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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 45, Issue 1, January 2019

Viktor Ivanković, Bart Engelen
Pages 43-73
DOI: 10.5840/soctheorpract20191751

Nudging, Transparency, and Watchfulness

Nudges have been criticized for working ‘in the dark’, influencing people without their full awareness. To assess whether this property renders nudging an illegitimate policy tool in liberal democracies, we argue that in scrutinizing nudge transparency, we should adequately divide our focus between nudging techniques, the nudgers employing them, and the nudgees subjected to them. We develop an account of what it means for nudgees to be ‘watchful’, a disposition that enables them to resist and circumvent nudges. We argue that such ‘watchfulness’ should be cultivated if we want to implement nudges in legitimate, accountable, and democratic ways.