Living with and responding to the ‘scrounger’ narrative in the UK: exploring everyday strategies of acceptance, resistance and deflection

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Ruth PatrickUniversity of Liverpool, UK

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In the UK, a dominant narrative operates to stereotype and stigmatise out-of-work benefit claimants as inactive welfare dependents who require activation if they are to enter paid employment and behave responsibly. Drawing upon a small-scale qualitative longitudinal study into lived experiences of welfare reform, this paper explores how out-of-work claimants respond to this dominant narrative. The paper illustrates the reach of benefits stigma, and the strategies adopted by claimants to manage such stigma: most notably via an ‘othering’ of those deemed less deserving. It is argued that this ‘othering’ is best understood as an admittedly defensive form of citizenship engagement.

Ruth PatrickUniversity of Liverpool, UK

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