Compliance is Never JUST Compliance
If you want to get risk and safety people excited in a frenzy just write against compliance. Since writing about compliance two days ago (https://safetyrisk.net/you-dont-want-a-compliance-culture/) I have been swamped with responses. What is this fixation with compliance? Surely it is more evidence of an immature sector in denial of complexity, seduced by the simplistic binary black and white. A sector that loves zero will never be able to act professionally.
Compliance is not alone but forms a small part of what some would call the human genre of ‘self-regulation and influence studies’. In the Social Psychology of Risk (SPoR) we know that compliance is not alone. The naïve idea that compliance is about setting and following rules and regulations is only a binary delusion believed by the risk and safety cult. Professional people know that the nature of compliance is a ‘wicked problem’ (http://www.peterwagner.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Safety-A-Wicked-Problem2.pdf ).
In the Social Psychology of Risk we know that all of the following are interconnected with the issue of compliance:
· Freedom, Free Will & Determinism
· Self Regulation
· Ego Deprivation
· Guilt, Fear, Trust, Hope
· Meaning and Purpose Creation
· Imagination, Creativity, Innovation and Learning
· Social Determinism
· Trait and Role Theory
· Institutional Trust
· Social Politics of Agency
· Social Contract
Compliance doesn’t sit in isolation from social and psychological realities. Compliance is part of the fallibility paradox (https://www.humandymensions.com/product/fallibility-risk-living-uncertainty/). For every compliance and resistance to compliance, there is an equal and opposite trade-off and by-product. Many of these trade-offs and by-products of non-compliance demonstrate the naivety of binary thinking about compliance. Take the Inquiry into the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse (https://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au/).
If there was ever a culture infused with a culture of compliance it was the Australia I grew up in in the 1960s. In those days people in authority were not to be questioned. Questioning was encountered as rebellion. The teacher was right, the police officer was right, the priest was right, dad was right. And, you’d cop a good thrashing if you were defiant. Compliance was institutionalised. The school was right, the club was right, the coach was right and the government was right. If you questioned god, country and Bob Menzies in the 1960s you were a socialist, the enemy of freedom and democracy (sic). Binary delusion always argues for bad in the name of good.
The same exists in the culture of the risk and safety industry today. Compliance is so loved that any questioning or dissent is met with demonization and excommunication. This is what a compliance mindset creates. The current curriculum in risk and safety is a testimony to mindless compliance and the total elimination of critical thinking (https://safetyrisk.net/isnt-it-time-we-reformed-the-whs-curriculum/). There will be no reform of risk and safety curriculum when regulators and compliance lovers are left in charge of the petty cash tin. Just look at any curriculum on risk and safety and try and find any element of study in questioning, critical thinking, ethics, social psychology, discourse, learning or deconstruction. You won’t find it. The key to risk and safety training is masses of knowledge of regulation and enforcement of compliance. However, the last thing we need is compliance just because some risk and safety officer commands what is right.
I have friends who were sexually abused during the 1960s who are scarred for life because of a culture of compliance. It was just good luck that I was overlooked and bad luck for my friends that they copped abuse and were compliant in silence. I learned in 1986 that one friend was serially raped every week for 6 years by the same clergy and was so fearful of speaking out that they endured everything because of a culture of compliance. Risk and safety engenders a similar kind of fear. Silence is the friend of Compliance, questioning and critical thinking is the enemy of Compliance. The Royal Commission statistics demonstrate that thousands of boys and girls were savagely abused because of a culture of compliance. We only received a Royal Commission in 2012 into abuse because of decades of non-compliance.
So if you want to learn about compliance perhaps you need to do some study in the Social Psychology of Risk to knock out some of that naïve binary nonsense (https://cllr.com.au/). Online and face-to-face modules are available on request.
Do you have any thoughts? Please share them below