the Human Development Reports and on the relationship between subjectivity and politics

Having closed (how close things are complete?) the chapter of my stay in UNDP, and in particular in the elaboration of the Human Development Reports, it might be more a reflection of the whole.

The first is how badly they read the Reports. I refer in particular to the 2015, about politicisation -that was where I had higher participation – even if this also applies to the 2012 Report of subjective well-being. Much of the reading of the Report was made from the perspective that the Report validated the diagnosis made by the second Bachelet government, in terms of a country that demanded profound changes in a wave of mobilization. A superficial reading of the Report thus indicated, and the fact that Pedro Güell -who worked for many years in the Reports – moved to The Currency, giving further encouragement to such a reading.

And yet, only one reading very superficial could conclude this. Because immediately afterwards, the Report was -it was a matter of digging a little bit – a long litany of difficulties and complexities for the diagnosis of an ‘official’ of the government: From the fact that the Report indicated that the demand for change did not imply support for particular project (it is one thing to agree that X is bad, it’s quite another to support a specific solution in particular); the desire for change was not born out necessarily of a state of discomfort (we already knew from 2012 that had not too ‘upset’ at the individual level, and one of the interesting facts about 2015 is that many wanted to deep changes, without being too intrusive with the country in general); that the state of agitation and mobilization at collective level did not imply, for nothing, high levels of involvement of the individual (the Report indicated that a good part of the population was with something of public engagement, but at the same time that it was generally rather low); that distrust, at this point traditional, of the population also appeared here, and in fact is constituted on a basis of mobilization, but this was then a strong distrust of any government.

One could continue, but it is clear that the Report gave enough information that dismantled the discourse of the government (and that interpretation would not have even been against what was set forth in the report itself, which emphasized the difficult character of the process). But, of course, was not read that way. Sometimes, remembering some of the things that you told me these days, I think, that was not even read really. In the end, it is impossible to take care of the bad readings.


The second observation that interests me is on the character of the Reports as such. One of the statements internal about it is that the Reports were all about the subjectivity, that what you were trying to do was to show the importance of the way in which people think and feel, how people live, their daily lives, the people that inhabit our strip of land. I said several times in internal conversations that he felt that this was wrong. The Reports would never have been interested in the subjectivity while subjectivity, or even tries to show the subjectivity and the political world. What I always tried to do, and in that I think that were always on the eaves of what I thought Lechner, was to show the subjective face of the policy, but it was in and from the policy (even if more open to the world of the politician, to use that distinction to what is outside of the institutional).

Subjectivity, everyday life as such was no longer the center of interest. A result that speak about a way of living or a way of feeling that did not have consequences for the policy (either as politics or as policy), or which does not make the interpretations that had those consequences in the crosshairs, it always ended up looking like, from the perspective that was used in the Reports, something irrelevant. You could always do then the questions about what and what? what was the significance of the issue? I always thought it was strange that if was proclaimed the interest in subjectivity and everyday life, not enough with the result to speak directly of these things. Out of interest, had to be relevant from the perspective of those who decide public policy.

A vision state central things don’t seems to be a very relevant or appropriate when what is of interest is the daily life and subjectivity. Obviously, there are connections -there always are, between almost anything. And it is true that this connection is of interest, and look at the everyday life from politics allows you to see things. That is not what I discuss here.

I remember something much more simple: That interest is not equal to the interest for daily life, or subjectivity. And it never hurts to make things clear, I guess.

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