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Poverty, policy and the stateThe changing face of social security$
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Mr Mike O'Brien

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9781861347992

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781861347992.001.0001

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The Fourth Labour government: 1984–90

The Fourth Labour government: 1984–90

(p.147) Seven The Fourth Labour government: 1984–90
Poverty, policy and the state

Michael O’Brien

Policy Press

The 1984–90 period can be characterised by an initial focus on benefit adequacy and poverty, reiteration of the historical emphasis on citizenship, and on setting benefit rules at a level that would ensure beneficiaries could participate as full citizens. Over the six years, that focus began to shift, a shift which reflected the growth of neoliberal politics in relation to the role of the state and the relationship between the state and the individual. In that shift, work incentives, dependency, and paid work and its associated and consequential self-reliance displaced benefit adequacy and poverty as the major considerations. Moreover, the shifts in the approach to social security occurred alongside significant growth in income inequality and in unemployment.

Keywords:   poverty, social security, benefit adequacy, citizenship, neoliberal politics, income inequality

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