This article seeks to understand citizen advocacy as an outlying form of volunteering that has distinctive characteristics and implications for the ways in which volunteering is framed. It does so by tracing the history of citizen advocacy, and exploring how its intention and exercise can be understood through Kant’s enunciations on dignity. It further explores how this type of volunteering comes under specific pressure in a UK public policy regime, based on neoliberal rationality. To assist in the analysis, the article draws on a study into the scale of and need for citizen advocacy in local communities. What emerges is that advocacy has fallen subject to pervasive market principles that erode recognition of its significance by reducing its value to that which is measurable, usually construed as short-term and outcomes-led interventions. In this way, citizen advocacy has become subsumed into the scope of formal services.
This article examines how recent welfare reform in the UK has caused systemic violence to people with severe disabilities who are reliant on state benefits. It evaluates the underpinning discourse framings and changes in welfare policies, using concepts of debility and recognition to reveal the inherent contradictions in policies targeting people on the ‘wrong side of inequality’. To help contribute to a recognition of the impact of these changes, the article gives voice to six people with severe disabilities who, through their benefit stories, expose the impact of this violence. Despite these injustices, their stories reveal lives lived with great courage and resilience, and worthy of much greater recognition.