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    Playing with the Absurdity of Welfare: Experiences of Irish Welfare Conditionality


    Finn, Philip (2019) Playing with the Absurdity of Welfare: Experiences of Irish Welfare Conditionality. PhD thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    Abstract

    This thesis critically explores the lived experience of negotiating and resisting work-related conditionality and sanctions in Ireland’s burgeoning labour activation regime. Post-crisis Ireland has witnessed the emergence of a definitive policy trajectory emphasizing lifelong attachment to the labour force through activation measures underpinned by conditionality and sanctions. It is a shift marked both by the intensification of conditionality through increased surveillance, stringent enforcement of behavioural requirements and the privatisation of employment services, and its extension via its application to lone parents and others. This thesis utilises Foucault’s (2007) ‘governmentality’ to explicate how individuals are governed according to a ‘job-seeking’ rationality which gains a concrete manifestation through techniques such as caseworker meetings, the provision of job-search evidence, and sanctions. It draws on 42 qualitative semi-structured interviews across a gender-balanced cohort of individuals on Jobseeker payments in Ireland, including active jobseekers, discouraged jobseekers, and lone parents. This is complemented with a ‘bottom-up’ conceptualisation of agency whereby street-level bureaucracy (Brodkin 2013); everyday resistance (Scott 1985; de Certeau 1984); lines of Flight (Deleuze 1995) and refusal of work (Tronti 1966a) are situated within Lister’s (2004) typology of agency. In this way the research illustrates a multiplicity of, at times gendered, street-level tactics and strategies enmeshed in a complex pattern of compliance, subversion, evasion and resistance whereby claimants navigate the rationality and practice of welfare conditionality based on their own needs, interests and desires. Despite the production of a new array of techniques of conditionality their application remains light, appearing as bureaucratic concerns with formalities rather than genuine engagement. At times this arises as an ‘unbearable lightness of conditionality’ in which the absurdity of the welfare system confronts participants with indifference rather than penalty.

    Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
    Keywords: Welfare; Experiences; Irish Welfare;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology
    Item ID: 11176
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 09 Oct 2019 09:21
    URI:

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