Cashless Welfare Transfers for ‘Vulnerable’ Welfare Recipients: Law, Ethics and Vulnerability
This article aims to contribute to literature on the conceptualisation of ‘vulnerability’ and its use by neo-liberal welfare regimes to demean, stigmatize and responsibilize welfare recipients. Several conceptions of ‘vulnerability’ will be explored and utilised in the context of welfare reforms that purport to regulate social security recipients as highly risky ‘vulnerable’ subjects. However, as this article will make clear, ‘vulnerability’ is a somewhat slippery concept and one susceptible to abuse by powerful interests intent on increasing coercive surveillance, discipline and disentitlement for those designated as ‘vulnerable’. Legislation enacted ostensibly to address the ‘vulnerability’ of welfare recipients can foster intensive regulation and it must be asked who benefits most from such arrangements and the rhetoric that supports them.
KeywordsCashless welfare transfers Neo-liberal welfare regimes Intensive regulation Ethics Vulnerability Compulsory income management Cashless Debit Card Indigenous peoples
My sincere thanks to Dr Kate Henne, Dr Marina Nehme, the editors, and the three anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback on an earlier draft; and to the School of Regulation and Global Governance (RegNet) at the Australian National University (ANU) who supported this research as part of a body of work on regulation, welfare conditionality, and Indigenous peoples undertaken as the Braithwaite Research Fellow. Thanks are also expressed for support via an ANU Early Career Researcher (ECR) Travel Grant and an ANU College of Asia and the Pacific ECR Research Development Award.
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