Skip to main content

‘How the Other Half Live’: Poor and Rich Citizenship in Austere Welfare Regimes

  • Daniel Edmiston (a1)

A growing body of research quantifies the recent impact of fiscal consolidation and public service reform in liberal welfare regimes. However, less is known about how this is affecting the common terms upon which citizenship status is granted and experienced. With this in mind, this article examines what bearing the political crafting of welfare austerity is having on the status, rights and identity of notionally equal citizens. To do so, this article draws on a qualitative study examining lived experiences of poor and rich citizenship in New Zealand and the UK. Despite policy programmes idiosyncratic to their institutional context, both countries exhibit a similarly bifurcated system of social citizenship that is serving to structure, rather than moderate, material and status inequalities in austere welfare regimes.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      ‘How the Other Half Live’: Poor and Rich Citizenship in Austere Welfare Regimes
      Available formats
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      ‘How the Other Half Live’: Poor and Rich Citizenship in Austere Welfare Regimes
      Available formats
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      ‘How the Other Half Live’: Poor and Rich Citizenship in Austere Welfare Regimes
      Available formats
Hide All
Beatty C. and Fothergill S. (2014) ‘The local and regional impact of the UK's welfare reforms’, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 7, 1, 6379.
Beddoe L. (2015) ‘Making a moral panic: “feral families”, family violence and welfare reforms in New Zealand: doing the work of the state?’, in Cree V. E. (ed.), Moral Panics in Theory and Practice: Gender and Family, Bristol: Policy Press, 3142.
Bennett P. (2012) Welfare Reform Legislation to be Introduced, Wellington: Ministry of Social Development.
Bielefeld S. (2015) ‘Compulsory income management, indigenous peoples and structural violence: implications for citizenship and autonomy’, Australian Indigenous Law Review, 18, 1, 99118.
Cameron D. (2009) ‘Putting Britain back on her feet’, Conservative Party Conference, Manchester.
Cameron D. (2012) ‘Welfare speech’, Bluewater, Kent.
De Agostini P., Hills J. and Sutherland H. (2015) ‘Were we really all in it together? The distributional effects of the 2010–2015 UK Coalition government's tax-benefit policy changes: an end-of-term update’, EUROMOD Working Paper Series 13/15, Colchester: University of Essex, ISER.
Dickinson J., Andrucki M. J., Rawlins E., Hale D. and Cook V. (2008) ‘Introduction: geographies of everyday citizenship’, ACME: An International Journal for Critical Geographies, 7, 2, 100–12.
Duncan Smith I. (2011) ‘Restoring fairness to the welfare system’, Conservative Party Conference, Manchester. Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) (2010) 21st Century Welfare, London: HMSO.
Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) (2016) Jobseeker's Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance Sanctions: Decisions Made to September 2015, London: HMSO.
Dwyer P. (1998) ‘Conditional citizens? Welfare rights and responsibilities in the late 1990s’, Critical Social Policy, 18, 57, 493517.
Dwyer P. (2002) ‘Making sense of social citizenship: some user views on welfare rights and responsibilities’, Critical Social Policy, 22, 273, 273–99.
Dwyer P. and Ellison N. (2009) ‘Work and welfare: the rights and responsibilities of unemployment in the UK’, in Giugni M. (ed.), The Politics of Unemployment in Europe, Surrey: Ashgate, 5366.
Dwyer P. and Wright S. (2014) ‘Universal Credit, ubiquitous conditionality and its implications for social citizenship’, Journal of Poverty and Social Justice, 22, 1, 2735.
Edmiston D. and Humpage L. (2016) ‘Resistance or resignation to welfare reform? The activist politics for and against social citizenship’, Policy and Politics,
Handler J. F. (2004) Social Citizenship and Workfare in the United States and Western Europe: The Paradox of Inclusion, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hodgetts D., Chamberlain K., Groot S. and Tankel Y. (2014) ‘Urban poverty, structural violence and welfare provision for 100 families in Auckland’, Urban Studies, 51, 10, 2036–51.
Humpage L. (2008) ‘Talking about citizenship in New Zealand’, Kōtuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, 3, 2, 121–34.
Humpage L. (2015) Policy Change, Public Attitudes and Social Citizenship: Does Neoliberalism Matter?, Bristol: Policy Press.
Jensen T. and Tyler I. (2012) ‘Austerity parenting: new economies of parent-citizenship’, Studies in the Maternal, 4, 2.
Jensen T. and Tyler I. (2015) ‘“Benefits broods”: The cultural and political crafting of anti-welfare commonsense’, Critical Social Policy, 35, 4, 470–91.
Jo Y. (2013) ‘Psycho-social dimensions of poverty: when poverty becomes shameful’, Critical Social Policy, 33, 3, 514–31.
Lister R., Smith N., Middleton S. and Cox L. (2003) ‘Young people talk about citizenship: empirical perspectives on theoretical and political debates’, Citizenship Studies, 7, 2, 235–53.
MacLeavy J. (2011) ‘A “new politics” of austerity, workfare and gender? The UK coalition government's welfare reform proposals’, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, 4, 3, 355–67.
Marshall T. H. (1950) Citizenship and Social Class: And Other Essays, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
New Zealand Treasury (NZT) (2016) Budget Economic and Fiscal Update, Wellington: New Zealand Treasury.
O'Brien M. (2013) ‘Welfare reform in Aotearoa/New Zealand: from citizen to managed worker’, Social Policy and Administration, 47, 6, 729–48.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) (2013) Country Statistical Profiles: Key Tables on Social Protection and Well-being, Paris: OECD,
Orton M. (2006) ‘Wealth, citizenship and responsibility: the views of “better off” citizens in the UK’, Citizenship Studies, 10, 2, 251–65.
Painter J. and Philo C. (1995) ‘Spaces of citizenship: an introduction’, Political Geography, 14, 2, 107–20.
Raffass T. (2016) ‘Work enforcement in liberal democracies’, Journal of Social Policy, 45, 3: 417–34.
Roper B. (2011) ‘The Fifth (Key) National Government's neoliberal policy agenda: description, analysis and critical evaluation’, New Zealand Sociology, 26, 1, 1240.
Social Justice Policy Group (SJPG) (2006) The State of the Nation Report: Economic Dependency, London: Social Justice Policy Group.
Tonkiss K. and Bloom T. (2015) ‘Theorising noncitizenship: concepts, debates and challenges’, Citizenship Studies, 19, 8, 837–52.
Van Houdt F., Suvarierol S. and Schinkel W. (2011) ‘Neoliberal communitarian citizenship: current trends towards “earned citizenship” in the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands’, International Sociology, 26, 3, 408–32.
Watts B., Fitzpatrick S., Bramley G. and Watkins D. (2014) Welfare Sanctions and Conditionality in the UK, York: Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
Whitworth A. (2016) ‘Neoliberal paternalism and paradoxical subjects: confusion and contradiction in UK activation policy’, Critical Social Policy, 36, 4, 120.
Wiggan J. (2011) ‘Something old and blue, or red, bold and new? Welfare reform and the Coalition government’, in Holden C., Kilkey M. and Ramia G. (eds.), Social Policy Review 23, Bristol: Policy Press, 2543.
Woolford A. and Nelund A. (2013) ‘The responsibilities of the poor: performing neoliberal citizenship within the bureaucratic field’, Social Service Review, 87, 2, 292318.
Wright S. (2016) ‘Conceptualising the active welfare subject: welfare reform in discourse, policy and lived experience’, Policy and Politics, 44, 2, 235–52.
Welfare Working Group (WWG) (2011) Reducing Long-Term Benefit Dependency: Recommendations, Wellington: Welfare Working Group.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Social Policy and Society
  • ISSN: 1474-7464
  • EISSN: 1475-3073
  • URL: /core/journals/social-policy-and-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 72
Total number of PDF views: 340 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 1027 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 29th December 2016 - 20th November 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.