Reconceptualising social exclusion : A critical response to the neoliberal welfare reform agenda and the underclass thesis

Journal article


Martin, Sonia. (2004). Reconceptualising social exclusion : A critical response to the neoliberal welfare reform agenda and the underclass thesis. Australian Journal of Social Issues. 39(1), pp. 79-94. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1839-4655.2004.tb01164.x
AuthorsMartin, Sonia
Abstract

The application of free-market principles to welfare reform in western industrialised nations is underpinned by contentious assumptions about human behaviour. In the postwar era, welfare policies largely considered disadvantage and exclusion as structural problems of the economy and society generally; disadvantaged individuals were considered ‘victims’ of their environment. More recently, conservative contributors have re-emphasised disadvantage and exclusion as largely due to behavioural problems of the ‘undeserving poor’, manifest in what is believed to be an ‘underclass’. Critics of the current welfare reform agenda have voiced their concerns about the individualist assumptions that underpin it but their response to date is insufficient because they have generally neglected human agency and have failed to acknowledge individuals as capable actors. While there has been a revival of interest in human agency, greater recognition of agency in debates about welfare is required to mount a credible critique of the conservative assumptions about human behaviour in order to develop a more sensitive theory of the activities of the poor. One of the ways in which this may be achieved is by reconceptualising the concept of social exclusion and highlighting a ‘strong’ rather than a ‘weak’ version.

Keywordswelfare reform; welfare policy; human behaviour
Year01 Jan 2004
JournalAustralian Journal of Social Issues
Journal citation39 (1), pp. 79-94
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons
ISSN0157-6321
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1002/j.1839-4655.2004.tb01164.x
Web address (URL)https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/j.1839-4655.2004.tb01164.x
Open accessPublished as non-open access
Research or scholarlyResearch
Page range79-94
Publisher's version
License
All rights reserved
File Access Level
Controlled
Output statusPublished
Publication dates
Online22 Dec 2016
PrintFeb 2004
Publication process dates
Deposited17 May 2024
Additional information

© Australian Council of Social Service

Place of publicationAustralia
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