Punitive benefit sanctions, welfare conditionality and the social abuse of unemployed people in Britain: transforming claimants into offenders?

WRIGHT, Sharon, FLETCHER, Del and STEWART, Alasdair (2020). Punitive benefit sanctions, welfare conditionality and the social abuse of unemployed people in Britain: transforming claimants into offenders? Social Policy and Administration: an international journal of policy and research.

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Official URL: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/spol.1...
Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12577
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    Abstract

    A defining feature of U.K. welfare reform since 2010 has been the concerted move towards greater compulsion and sanctioning, which has been interpreted by some social policy scholars as punitive and cruel. In this article, we borrow concepts from criminology and sociology to develop new interpretations of welfare conditionality. Based on data from a major Economic and Social Research Council‐funded qualitative longitudinal study (2014–2019), we document the suffering that unemployed claimants experienced because of harsh conditionality. We find that punitive welfare conditionality often caused symbolic and material suffering and sometimes had life‐threatening effects. We argue that a wide range of suffering induced by welfare conditionality can be understood as ‘social abuse’, including the demoralisation of the futile job‐search treadwheel and the self‐administered surveillance of the Universal Jobmatch panopticon. We identify a range of active claimant responses to state perpetrated harm, including acquiescence, adaptation, resistance, and disengagement. We conclude that punitive post‐2010 unemployment correction can be seen as a reinvention of failed historic forms of punishment for offenders.

    Item Type: Article
    Uncontrolled Keywords: 1605 Policy and Administration; 1606 Political Science; 1608 Sociology; Political Science & Public Administration
    Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12577
    SWORD Depositor: Symplectic Elements
    Depositing User: Symplectic Elements
    Date Deposited: 31 Jan 2020 10:00
    Last Modified: 19 Jun 2020 12:16
    URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/25760

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