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For Whose Benefit?The Everyday Realities of Welfare Reform$
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Ruth Patrick

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781447333463

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447333463.001.0001

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Scroungerphobia: living with the stigma of benefits

Scroungerphobia: living with the stigma of benefits

(p.145) Six Scroungerphobia: living with the stigma of benefits
For Whose Benefit?

Ruth Patrick

Policy Press

This chapter reflects upon how out-of-work benefit claimants see both themselves and others in a time of welfare reform, and discusses the pervasive reach and consequences of benefits stigma. It details the widespread evidence of individuals’ critiquing their own benefits receipt, often seeming to have internalised and adopted the negative, moralising rhetoric around ‘welfare’. It illustrates the ways in which the process of claiming benefits is today imbued in stigma and shame. This chapter also describes how individuals rejected the popular notion of benefits as a ‘lifestyle choice’ having an applicability to their individual case, while at the same time frequently seeing it as having meaning for some ‘other’ judged to be less deserving of ‘welfare’. This ‘othering’ is described as a form of – admittedly very defensive – citizenship engagement and claim making. The ways in which such ‘othering’ reduces the scope for a more solidaristic challenge to the status quo is considered, as is its impact on individuals’ attitudes to (and often support for) welfare reform.

Keywords:   stigma, othering, identity, stereotypes, welfare attitudes

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