Welfare reform, surveillance and new paternalism

Dee, Michael J. & Lantz, Sarah (2012) Welfare reform, surveillance and new paternalism. In Broom, Alex & Cheshire, Lynda (Eds.) The Australian Sociological Association Annual Conference, November 27-29, Brisbane, The Australian Sociological Association, The University of Queensland.

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This paper discusses the situation of welfare claimants, often constructed as faulty citizens and flawed welfare subjects. Many are on the receiving end of complex, multi-layered forms of surveillance aimed at securing socially responsible and compliant behaviours. In Australia, as in other Western countries, neoliberal economic regimes with their harsh and often repressive treatment of welfare recipients operate in tandem with a burgeoning and costly arsenal of CCTV and other surveillance and governance assemblages. The Australian Government’s Centrelink BasicsCard is but one example of welfare surveillance, whereby a percentage of a welfare claimant’s allowances must be spent on ‘approved’ items. The BasicsCard which has perhaps slipped under the radar of public discussion and is expanding nationally, raises significant questions about whether it is possible to encourage people to take responsibility for themselves if they no longer have real control over the most important aspects of their lives. Resistance and critical feedback, particularly from Indigenous people, points to a loss of dignity around the imposition of income management, operational complexity and denial of individual agency in using the BasicsCard, alongside the contradiction of apparently becoming ‘self-reliant’ through being income managed by the welfare state. This paper highlights the lack of solid evidence for the implementation/imposition of the BasicsCard and points to the importance of developing critically based research to inform the enactment of evidence based policy, also acting as a touchstone for governmental accountability. In highlighting issues around the BasicsCard this paper makes a contribution to the largely under discussed area of income management and the growth of welfare surveillance in Australia.

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ID Code: 55841
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Income management, Surveillance, Centrelink, BasicsCard, Welfare
ISBN: 9780646587837
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIAL WORK (160700) > Social Work not elsewhere classified (160799)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Urban Sociology and Community Studies (160810)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Schools > School of Public Health & Social Work
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2012 The Australian Sociological Association
Deposited On: 31 Jan 2013 02:32
Last Modified: 23 Mar 2013 04:00

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