Getting personal: investigating how living with universal credit affects emotions and identities

NEGUS, Sophia Constance (2021). Getting personal: investigating how living with universal credit affects emotions and identities. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

Negus_2021_PhD_GettingPersonalInvestigating.pdf - Accepted Version
Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (8MB) | Preview
Link to published version::


This thesis investigates the impacts of Universal Credit (UC) on emotions, wellbeing, identities, and the ‘self’. The findings are of growing importance as increasing numbers of people are receiving UC. Six million people now engage with a ‘violent’ system (Cooper and Whyte, 2017) which pushes people further from the labour market, society, health, and their ‘self’. UC introduced radical changes to British working-age social security, with aims to ‘simplify’ the system, reduce costs and fraud, and ‘make work pay’. Since launching in 2013, there has been growing evidence on the negative impacts of UC, yet, little is known about the impact UC has on emotions, wellbeing, identities, and the ‘self’, a gap in knowledge this thesis addresses. A geographically bound case-study was adopted using semi-structured interviews and participant-solicited diaries to investigate the diverse realities and impacts of UC. The analytical framework utilises several concepts and theories, drawing upon Elias (1994) as it is argued UC is a ‘civilising offensive’ (Powell, 2013), and Goffman (1997/2007) to explore the impacts on identities. This thesis provides empirical contributions to knowledge surrounding the extent and severity of the impacts of UC on emotions and the ‘self’. The research found that harm inflicted from UC carries serious consequences and the experiences indicate a systemic erosion of people, lives, and possibilities. The findings demonstrate how UC is experienced as dehumanizing and destabilising of emotions, wellbeing and the ‘self’. It provides important insights into how people respond to UC and the significant resources spent on ‘self-management’ as individuals attempt to preserve their identities which are under threat from institutional scrutiny, stigma and increasing poverty. Therefore, this thesis provides an important contribution to knowledge surrounding the corrosive nature of UC.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Hickman, Paul [0000-0002-3062-0003]
Additional Information: Director of studies: Dr. Paul Hickman / Supervisor: Dr. Lindsey McCarthy
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2021 17:24
Last Modified: 03 May 2023 02:05

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics