Begging is widely condemned, but little understood. It is increasingly visible, yet politically controversial. Recent changes in British social security, housing and mental health provision can be seen to have exacerbated the extent of begging in the UK, and its persistence is an indictment of the failures of social policy throughout the Western world.
Though begging is intimately linked to issues of street homelessness, mental health, substance abuse and social exclusion, this book specifically focuses on begging as a distinctive form of marginalised economic activity.
It looks at:
the significance of face-to-face contact between beggars and passers-by;
the preoccupation with the classification of beggars;
the stigma associated with begging and judgements required by the passer-by;
the place of begging in the spectrum of informal economic activity.
The book provides a comprehensive overview and will stimulate theoretical, policy and methodological debates, driving forward the research agenda.
It is important reading for researchers, academics and students in social policy, social work, sociology, politics and socio-legal studies, and also for social work practitioners and, particularly, policy makers.
This second edition of a widely respected textbook is one of the few resources available to provide an overview of human need, as a key concept in the social sciences. Taking an approach encompassing both global North and South, this accessible and engaging book models existing practical and theoretical approaches to human need while also proposing a radical alternative.
Incorporating crucial current debates and illustrations, the author explores:
distinctions between different types and levels of need;
how different approaches are reflected in different sorts of policy goals;
debates about the relationship between needs, rights and welfare;
contested thinking about needs in relation to caring, disadvantage and humanity.
Fully revised and updated, this new edition pays due regard to the shifting nature of welfare ideologies and welfare regimes. Offering essential insights for students of social policy, it will also be of interest to other social science disciplines, policy makers and political activists.
The book explores the extent to which rights to welfare are related to human inter-dependency on the one hand and the ethics of responsibility on the other. Its intention is to kick-start a fresh debate about the moral foundations of social policy and welfare reform.
The ethics of welfare:
explores the concepts of dependency, responsibility and rights and their significance for social citizenship;
draws together findings from a range of recent research that has investigated popular, political, welfare provider and welfare user discourses;
discusses, in a UK context, the relevance of the recent Human Rights Act for social policy;
presents arguments in favour of a human rights based approach to social welfare.
The book is essential reading for anyone concerned about the future of welfare. It is aimed at students and academics in social policy, social work, sociology, politics and law. It will also interest policy makers and welfare professionals, particularly those concerned with welfare benefits and social care.
This article explores the shifting ethical foundations of the welfare-to-work or ‘workfare’ state within the richer capitalist economies of the world. It provides a discussion of the historical context; a critical analysis of competing moral discourses and ethical concepts of responsibility; and, based on this, a heuristic taxonomy of different approaches to welfare-to-work. It concludes with a critique of the dominant approaches to welfareto- work, contending that they are at worst an affront to human rights and at best ethically ambiguous in that they fail to address people's need, as opposed to their responsibility, to work.
A key policy response to the downward pressure on wages of the lowest-paid workers in the developed economies of the capitalist world has been the introduction of meanstested cash transfer schemes by which to top up low wages. Findings from a study of the experiences of the beneficiaries of a particular scheme (the United Kingdom’s Working Tax Credit) suggest that, although schemes may serve to relieve the poverty of low-paid workers and their families, the extent to which they promote the accessibility of ‘decent work’ is ambiguous.
This article is, in part, an editorial introduction to the three other articles that will be addressing the commissioned theme of this issue of Benefits, which is concerned with social security appeals and redress. It briefly outlines the context and substance of those articles. In part, however, this article is also an historical and conceptual introduction to the theme as a whole. Although it would seem that impending reforms to the social security appeals system hold out the prospect of a reinvigorated and more independent form of tribunal, this article points to a deeper trend: a trend away from adjudication and appeals and towards forms of redress based on complaints procedures and technical reviews.
The article explores the work–life balance policy agenda as it has emerged in post-industrial societies, such as the UK, and it reports on a small-scale study of the experiences and expectations of work–life balance in a low-income inner-London neighbourhood. From the study, certain general issues are identified relating to the inconsistency of employers’ practices and the currently fragmented nature of childcare provision. And certain issues of particular relevance for low-earning parents are identified, relating to the implications of the UK’s new tax credit schemes and the dearth of effective independent advice provision.
The subject of begging and the activities of those who get their living (or a part of it) on the street have been neglected by social policy. They have been observed by historians, human geographers, sociologists and criminologists; they have been expounded upon by politicians and journalists; yet first and foremost begging is – or rather ought to be – a primary concern of social policy. This is for two reasons. First, social policy as a substantive phenomenon in the industrial capitalist era had its very origins as a response to begging. The institutions and techniques that emerged and developed to constitute the modern welfare state entailed the organisation of alms-giving and the regulation of provision for human need. Second, social policy as a critical academic discipline ought to be more alive than any other to the issues raised by what the European Foundation on Social Quality (1997) has called “the growing number of beggars, tramps and homeless in the cities of Europe”. Though the evidence has been largely anecdotal, recent changes in British social security, housing and mental health provision would appear to have exacerbated the extent of begging. Certainly, the persistence of begging may be construed as an indictment of the failures of social policy in the Western world. Though begging tends to be intimately linked to streethomelessness, it is necessary to address the phenomenon more generally – together, for example, with busking, Big Issue selling and unlicensed street trading – as a distinctive form of informal economic activity that reflects fundamental changes in the economic environment and in the role of the welfare state.
Central to any discussion of the changing role of the State in relation to welfare provision is the concept of citizenship, both as a status attributed to individual members of society and as a social practice involving participation and governance. Citizenship is a fundamentally contested concept that has lately re-emerged as a subject of political discourse and academic inquiry. Prior to the 1992 General Election, Britain’s main political parties vied with each other to establish different visions of a ‘citizen’s charter’ (Dean, 1994, pp 103-4). Although such rhetoric did not feature so explicitly in the 1997 election campaign, the language of citizenship continues to lie at the heart of New Labour’s project, and in particular, in its proposals for welfare reform. The welfare reform Green Paper, for example, envisages a forthcoming age in which “the new welfare contract between government and the people will give all our citizens the means to achieve their full potential” (DSS, 1998a, p 21). Meanwhile, there has been a daunting proliferation of literature on citizenship theory (for example, Culpitt, 1992; Roche, 1992; Turner, 1993; Oliver and Heater, 1994;Twine, 1994; van Steenbergen, 1994; Bulmer and Rees, 1996; Lister, 1997b).
This chapter will:
outline the competing traditions which underpin concepts of citizenship, the different ways in which notions of ‘social citizenship’ have informed modern welfare state regimes and the manner by which conceptions of citizenship were reconstructed within New Right thinking prior to New Labour’s election;
analyse the significance of New Labour’s communitarian agenda and the extent to which this represents an emerging new orthodoxy with regard to the basis of our citizenship;