Responsibilising recovery: lone and low paid parents, Universal Credit and the gendered contradictions of UK welfare reform

Cain, Ruth (2016) Responsibilising recovery: lone and low paid parents, Universal Credit and the gendered contradictions of UK welfare reform. British Politics, 11 (4). pp. 488-507. ISSN 1746-918X. (doi:https://doi.org/10.1057/s41293-016-0034-4) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Official URL
http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/s41293-016-0034-4

Abstract

Universal Credit is a new benefits delivery system designed to streamline UK benefits and tax credits and encourage work. This paper examines Universal Credit’s effect on lone parent and low-paid households. Lone mothers, identified as a moral and financial risk, face conditionality which ignores barriers to employment. Universal Credit also extends conditionality to lower-paid workers and their families. It encodes contradictory gendered messages. While individual parental responsibility is increasingly socially and legally emphasised, unemployed or low-paid parents may be forced to spend minimal time with children under threat of sanctions or workfare. Universal Credit demonstrates a clash between market-liberal economic ideals of labour flexibility, and conservative valorisations of the good mother and (married/heteronormative) family, enhanced by ‘recovery’ discourses of thrift and responsibilisation. This paper argues that such moral/economic incoherence will penalise ‘workless’ and ‘part-workless’ citizens who cannot fulfil neoliberal ideals of the private, self-sufficient family unit in hostile economic conditions.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled keywords: Universal Credit, welfare reform, lone parents, algorithmic regulation, responsibilisation, worklessness
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HJ Public Finance
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman > HQ1236 Gender Politics
J Political Science
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
K Law
K Law > KD England and Wales
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > Kent Law School
Faculties > Social Sciences > Kent Law School > Centre for Law, Gender and Sexuality
Depositing User: Ruth Cain
Date Deposited: 03 Jul 2017 11:57 UTC
Last Modified: 14 Aug 2017 14:00 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/62178 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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