Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-xfwgj Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-06-19T17:53:08.787Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Workfare – a Blast from the Past? Contemporary Work Conditionality for the Unemployed in Historical Perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 May 2014

Del Roy Fletcher*
Affiliation:
CRESR, Sheffield Hallam University E-mail: d.r.fletcher@shu.ac.uk

Abstract

During 2011, the UK Government introduced the Mandatory Work Activity scheme, which requires JSA claimants to work in order to continue receiving benefit. Workfare has been viewed as a radical departure in the evolution of British labour market policy. However, an historical review of workfare in inter-war Britain reveals that the most recent proposals merely resuscitate a heritage of compelling the long-term unemployed to work for their benefit. Both then and now workfare has flourished in times of economic crisis, and particularly where Governments have pursued economic theories which exalt the market. Historical analysis reveals important continuities and changes in the nature of contemporary workfare.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2014 

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

Burnett, J. (1994) Idle Hands: The Experience of Unemployment, 1790–1990, London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Clarke, J. (2005) ‘New Labour's citizens: activated, empowered, responsibilized, abandoned?’, Critical Social Policy, 25, 4, 447–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Clark, W. (2013) ‘Workfare: a policy on the brink’, The Red Pepper, February.Google Scholar
Colledge, D. (1989) Labour Camps: The British Experience, Sheffield: Sheffield Popular Publishing.Google Scholar
Colledge, D. and Field, J. (1983) ‘To recondition human material: an account of a British labour camp in the 1930s – an interview with William Heard’, History Workshop Journal, 15, 1, 152–66.Google Scholar
Crisp, R. and Fletcher, D. R. (2008) A Comparative Review of Workfare Programmes in the United States, Canada and Australia, Research Report No. 533, London: Department for Work and Pensions.Google Scholar
Croucher, R. (1987) ‘We Refuse to Starve in Silence’: A History of the National Unemployed Workers’ Movement, 1920–1946, London: Lawrence & Wishart.Google Scholar
Deacon, A. (1976) In Search of the Scrounger, Occasional Papers on Social Administration No. 60, London: G. Bell & Sons.Google Scholar
Dean, H. (2012) ‘The ethical deficit of the United Kingdom's proposed universal credit: pimping the precariat?’, The Political Quarterly, 83, 2, 353–9.Google Scholar
Dean, H. and Taylor-Gooby, P. (1992) Dependency Culture: The Explosion of a Myth, London: Harvester Wheatsheaf.Google Scholar
Department for Work and Pensions (2008a) Raising Expectations and Increasing Support: Reforming Welfare for the Future, London: HMSO.Google Scholar
Department for Work and Pensions (2008b) No-One Written Off: Reforming Welfare to Reward Responsibility, London: HMSO.Google Scholar
Department for Work and Pensions (2010a) Universal Credit: Welfare that Works, London: HMSO.Google Scholar
Department for Work and Pensions (2010b) 21st Century Welfare, London: HMSO.Google Scholar
Department for Work and Pensions (2012a) ‘Mandatory work activity scheme extended’, press release, 12 July, DWP, London.Google Scholar
Department for Work and Pensions (2012b) Evaluation of Mandatory Work Activity, Research Report 823, London: DWP.Google Scholar
Department for Work and Pensions (2013) Mandatory Programmes Official Statistics, 22 May, London: DWP.Google Scholar
Digby, A. (1989) British Welfare Policy: Workhouse to Workfare, London: Faber & Faber.Google Scholar
Finn, D. (1996) Making Benefits Work: Employment Programmes and Job Creation Measures, Manchester: Centre for Local Economic Strategies.Google Scholar
Freud, D. (2009) ‘Reducing Dependency, Increasing Opportunity: Options for the Future of Welfare to Work’, An independent report to the Department for Work and Pensions, London: Corporate Document Services.Google Scholar
Fryer, D. (2013) ‘Unemployment’, in Teo, T. (ed.), Encyclopaedia of Critical Psychology, Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer, DOI: 10.1007/SpringerReference_304973 2013-01-26 18:30:43, UTC Springer Reference, www.springerreference.com.Google Scholar
Gallie, D. (1994) ‘Are the unemployed and underclass? Some evidence from the social change and economic life initiative’, Sociology, 28, 3, 737–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gamble, A. (2001) ‘Neo-liberalism’, Capital and Class, 25, 3, 127–34.Google Scholar
Glyn, A. (2006) Capitalism Unleashed: Finance, Globalization, and Welfare, Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Hannington, W. (1936) Unemployed Struggles, 1919–1936, reprint, London: Lawrence & Wishart, 1977.Google Scholar
Hannington, W. (1937) The Problem of the Distressed Areas, reprint, London: EP Publishing Ltd, 1976.Google Scholar
Hayburn, R. (1983) ‘The national unemployed workers’ movement, 1921–1936: a re-appraisal’, International Review of Social History, 20, 3, 279–95.Google Scholar
HM Government (2010) The Coalition: Our Programme for Government, London: Cabinet Office.Google Scholar
HM Government (2012) Social Justice: Transforming Lives, HMSO: London.Google Scholar
Hobsbawm, E. (1994) Age of Extremes: The Short Twentieth Century, 1914–1991, London: Abacus Books.Google Scholar
Home Office (2002) Prison Statistics, England and Wales, 2002, London: Office for National Statistics.Google Scholar
Humphries, S and Gordon, P. (1994) Forbidden Britain: Our Secret Past, 1900–1960, London: BBC Books.Google Scholar
Jahoda, M., Lazarfeld, P. F. and Zeisel, H. (1933) Marienthal: The Sociography of an Unemployed Community, English edition, London: Tavistock, 1972.Google Scholar
Kempson, E. (1996) Life on a Low Income, York: York Publishing Services.Google Scholar
King, D. (1999) In the Name of Liberalism: Illiberal Social Policy in the USA and Britain, Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Larsen, J. E. (2001) ‘The active society and activation policy’, Cost A13 Conference: Social Policy, Marginalisation and Citizenship, Aalborg University, Denmark, 2–4 November.Google Scholar
McKibbin, R. (1998) Classes and Cultures: England, 1918–1951, Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
Morris, L. (1994) Dangerous Classes: The Underclass and Social Citizenship, London: Routledge.Google Scholar
Orwell, G. (1949) Nineteen Eighty-Four, London: Secker & Warburg.Google Scholar
Peck, J. (2001) Workfare States, New York: Guildford Press.Google Scholar
Piven, F. F. (2010) ‘A response to Wacquant’,Theoretical Criminology, 14, 1, 111–16.Google Scholar
Scannell, P. (1980) ‘Broadcasting and the politics of unemployment 1930–1935’, Media, Culture and Society, 2, 1528.Google Scholar
Shildrick, T., MacDonald, R., Webster, C. and Garthwaite, K. (2012) Poverty and Insecurity: Life on Low-Pay, No-Pay Britain, Bristol: The Policy Press.Google Scholar
Slater, T. (2012) ‘The myth of “Broken Britain”: welfare reform and the production of ignorance’, Antipode, doi: 10.1111/anti.12002.Google Scholar
Standing, G. (2011) ‘The precariat’, Journal of Social Policy, 41, 1, 117.Google Scholar
Stedman Jones, J. (1984) Outcast London: A Study of the Relationship between Classes in Victorian Society, Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
Stiglitz, J. (2012) ‘A banking system needs to serve society, not the other way’, Vanity Fair, January, http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/2012/01/stiglitz-depression-201201.Google Scholar
Theodore, N. (1998) ‘On parallel paths: the Clinton/Blair agenda and the new geopolitics of workfare’, Changing Places, The Information Society, Understanding the Environment, Annual Conference of the Royal Geographical Society, University of Surrey, Guildford, 5–8 January, www.rgs.org.Google Scholar
Toynbee, P. (2003) Hard Work: Life in Low-Pay Britain, London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
Wacquant, L. (2009) Punishing the Poor: The Neoliberal Government of Social Insecurity, Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
Welshman, J. (2006) ‘The concept of the unemployable’, Economic History Review, 59, 3, 578606.Google Scholar
Welshman, J. (2013) Underclass: A History of the Excluded, London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
Whiteside, N. (1991) Bad Times: Unemployment in British Social and Political History, London: Faber & Faber.Google Scholar
Wright, S. (2012) ‘Welfare-to-work, agency and personal responsibility’, Journal of Social Policy, 41, 2, 309–28.Google Scholar