Wednesday, 25 January 2017

In pursuit of “the welfare trait”: recycling deprivation and reproducing deprivation

an article by Michael Lambert (Lancaster University) published in People, Place and Policy Volume 10 Issue 3 (2016)


Adam Perkins’ The Welfare Trait outlines the most recent attempt to provide substance to the existence of an underclass, based on the idea of a shared ‘welfare-induced’, ‘employment-resistant’ personality amongst benefit claimants.

Following in the footsteps of historian John Macnicol who went ‘in pursuit’ of the underclass, this article travels ‘in pursuit’ of the welfare trait by situating its claims in historical context through a comparison of the post-war study by William Tonge, Families without Hope, which sought to identify a common psychological maladjustment in ‘problem families’.

The common intention, methods and recommendations of the two studies underline their shared purpose: to transfer the social and policy problems associated with poverty from their socio-economic context and the culpabilities of the state to finding the problem in individual families, identifying their behaviour as problematic and proscribing solutions rooted around cultivating personal responsibility. in historical context

Full text (HTML) also available as downloadable PDF

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