Pro-‘workfare’ governments justify their policies by claiming ‘workfare’ helps enhance self-esteem and promote the dignity of unemployed recipients. On the other hand, welfare activists argue that ‘workfare’ suppresses the dignity of unemployed persons.
This book examines the concept of human dignity in this context and attempts to clarify its meaning. For the first time, it formulates a framework for evaluating the dignity of welfare recipients; uses this framework to explore the dignity of unemployed persons in four different welfare systems: UK, Sweden, China and Hong Kong and compares the conditions of human dignity in each case and identifies factors which enhance or suppress it.
Human dignity and welfare systems is important reading for students and academics in the fields of social policy, social work, philosophy and politics. It is also a useful reference text for politicians, welfare administrators and activists.
71 FIVE Maintaining dignity and independence Liz Lloyd, Michael Calnan, Ailsa Cameron, Jane Seymour, Randall Smith and Kate White Introduction The perspectives of older people on dignity in care have been largely overlooked in British policies, and the tendency has been to look at ways in which care providers should ‘deliver dignity’ by reference to agreed standards. For example, the Dignity Challenge developed in 2006 identified 10 dignity tests against which services could be evaluated (Cass et al, 2009). In this project, the research team took the view
363 17 Dignity, self-respect and real poverty in Europe Christian Neuhäuser Introduction In a speech given in Nairobi in 1973 the then President of the World Bank, Robert S. McNamara, made a strong distinction between absolute and relative poverty. He said: ‘Relative poverty means simply that some countries are less affluent than other countries, or that some citizens of a given country have less personal abundance than their neighbors. […] But absolute poverty is a condition of life so degraded by disease, illiteracy, malnutrition, and squalor as to deny
125 Sweden and human dignity SEVEN Sweden and human dignity Sweden has always been regarded as ‘the archetype of a universal model’ (Palme, 2002) as well as ‘the most expensive welfare state’ (Rothstein, 1998, p 6). After comparing a wide range of welfare states, Doyal and Gough (1991, p 290) conclude that the Swedish welfare state ‘emerges as the global leader, the country most closely approximating optimum need-satisfaction at the present time’. Sweden was also ranked second on the United Nations’ Human Development Index (United Nations Development Programme
65 China and human dignity FIVE China and human dignity China has experienced dramatic social and economic changes since adopting an open-door policy in 1978. Before that, the Chinese government mainly followed the principles of socialism, according to which the needs of workers and their family members, such as medical care, housing, education and retirement, were met by state-owned enterprises (SOEs). This is because all means of production were in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP); full employment had been achieved at the expense of surplus labour
Key messages Martha Nussbaum’s account of anger is incomplete, because it reduces it to a zero-sum status competition. I argue that feminist anger is often premised upon a dignity claim. Dignity in feminist anger can manifest as personal or bodily dignity. Dignity in feminist anger can assert collective identity or autonomy. Introduction The subtitle of this essay may read as paradoxical if not outright oxymoronic. At first glance, the physical experience of anger seems anything but dignified. When we are angry, our faces flush, our voices move
of dignity; our emotions overwhelm our rational brains, and we respond to the world in simplistic if not childish or violent fashions. And yet, I very much mean to defend the idea that some anger, particularly the liberatory anger of those on the margins, has at its core an assertion of personal and political dignity. To be specific, I claim that the use of dignity that is present in feminist political anger is not of the zero-sum variety (women gain status through men’s loss of status), but as a claim of worth. Proponents of feminist political anger argue that
3 Human dignity and social policy ONE Human dignity and social policy In the twentieth century, more than a hundred million in Europe alone died by violence, often in a way they could not have foreseen even in their worst nightmares. In our century, history has been a butcher’s bench, and the words human dignity have often sounded empty. (Michael Novak, 1998) The importance of human dignity always emerges from the torture and abuse of human beings. In 2004, the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers in Abu Ghraib prison was widely reported. Newspaper
37 Hong Kong and human dignity FOUR Hong Kong and human dignity With a population of 6.81 million, Hong Kong is one of the most developed societies as well as the world’s freest economy. As a former British colony and now as a special administrative region of China, Hong Kong has had a government that has consistently followed the principles of the free market. David Wilson (1987, p 13), a former colonial governor, claims that Hong Kong was ‘the prime example of a free-trade economy’; while Tung Chee Hwa, the first Chief Executive (CE) of the Hong Kong Special
13 Rationality, sociability and human dignity TWO Rationality, sociability and human dignity As illustrated in Chapter One, since the concept of human dignity is vague it is hard to judge whether some welfare practices enhance or suppress the dignity of welfare recipients. Yet some governments cite dignity as a moral justification for regulating the behaviour of unemployed persons. Thus it is essential to explore the concept of dignity in order to assess the impact of current welfare measures on recipients. The exploration of human dignity should start from human