Contemporary living is predicated on the concept of consent, in our relationships with each other, in law, in healthcare – and above all in politics. Legitimate government relies upon the consent of the people. At some level, consent means we must have agreed to be governed, allegedly through the ballot box. Without our consent, political institutions would lack legitimacy.
Yet we know it is not quite so straightforward. How well informed is our consent, and can the methods for securing it be manipulated? When should silence be taken as a form of ‘tacit’ consent, and does an absence of dissent imply widespread agreement to the order of things? Isn’t consent really a spectrum and when new norms are created, what happens when they are not shared by all parts of society? These questions go to the heart of our politics, law, data, media and whole areas of public life.