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On the medicalisation of welfare : towards a genealogy of dependency

Arribas-Ayllon, Michael ORCID: 2005. On the medicalisation of welfare : towards a genealogy of dependency. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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The thesis combines genealogical investigation with an 'analytics of government' to diagnose present reforms of Australian Social Security. The Australian example poses a new diagram of knowledge/power relations linked to early nineteenth century debates on pauperism and poor policy. Characteristic of 'advanced' liberal government, social welfare is transformed from an income redistribution scheme to a behaviour modification regime. This raises serious implications for contemporary citizenship, subjectification and the apparent flexibility of wage-labour. By re-tracing modern welfare's conditions of possibility, the present is reconstructed to breach the naturalness and self-evidence with which we accept the current crisis of welfare as problems of 'community', 'dependency' and 'participation'. The case is made that present control strategies rapidly recycle clients into flexible wage-labour via human technologies that seek the ethical and moral reconstruction of the poor. But diagnosis is a limited enterprise if it fails to consult the experiences of those to which these reforms are applied. A discursive analysis of 12 interview participants deemed 'at risk' of welfare dependency explores themes of labour market activity, welfare regulation and practices of freedom to understand how welfare subjects manage and transform their lives. Interviews confirm the existence of discourses that reinscribe distinctions between the deserving and undeserving poor, intensify stigma of welfare receipt, and increase ambivalence about labour market security. Furthermore, a psychological subject emerges as one of two positions: it reactivates the pathologies of abject sectors of the population, while shoring-up capacities for rational self- management. Arguably, psychology has become a key technology for the ethical reconstruction of conduct and the calculated management of risk. Discourses of poverty are now recast as problems of 'the excluded' as welfare rationalities monitor and prevent behaviours that lead to market passivity. Like early nineteenth century statements on poverty, citizenship is now conditional upon moral improvement. And while neo-classical solutions have succeeded in moving the welfare debate away from contradictions of political economy, welfare reform risks producing a sector of the population that is low paid, casualised, under-protected from risk, insecure and desocialised.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
ISBN: 9781303173929
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 25 Oct 2022 08:44

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