Thursday, 8 June 2017

Welfare rights, self-help and social enterprise: Unpicking neoliberalism’s mess

an article by Jessica Gerrard (University of Melbourne, Australia) published in Journal of Sociology Volume 53 Issue 1 (March 2017)


Neoliberalism is often represented as a fundamental intrusion of individualism into post-war welfare policy settlements. This article seeks to unpick this understanding through a case study of the intersections between the welfare rights and self-help approaches of the homeless and community sectors in the 1970s and 1980s, and the emergence of social enterprise and The Big Issue in the 1990s.

First, I outline the development of a dedicated ‘homeless sector’ in the 1970s.

Second, the ways in which this sector developed in relation to challenges to state authority in social welfare is examined.

Finally, I explore the discursive intersections between the critiques of the welfare state, and the rise of neoliberalism and social enterprise.

I suggest the emergence of social enterprise is emblematic of wider claims to individual agency, while also interwoven with the rise of neoliberalism and the capitalist recuperation of self-help and welfare rights challenges to state strategies.

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