Welfare stigma, welfare state, Ireland, UK, austerity, resistance
The Beveridge report and its efforts to imagine and design a welfare state from ‘cradle to crave’ can be strikingly juxtaposed with Pinker’s (1970) enduring observation that stigma is a habitual technique for rationing ‘scarce’ welfare resources, and the most common expression of coercion and violence in democratic societies. This themed section interrogates welfare stigma as a potent force continually informing welfare state practices that discipline and divide in complex ways, construing and determining who does not, but also who does, deserve welfare. As current debates about re-imagining welfare are prompted by so many concerns including the ongoing violent legacies of austerity and neo-liberal inspired welfare reforms; reflections on the 80th anniversary of the Beveridge report; and thinking about the possibilities and opportunities for progressive welfare reform post-pandemic; the need to address and challenge welfare stigma should arguably be at the centre of these debates.
The articles in this themed section address these concerns about welfare stigma in the context of neighbouring Irish and UK welfare states. The articles offer a set of critical inquiries into the experience, (re)production and resistance to welfare stigma across a range of groups of welfare recipients. By doing so, the themed section ultimately aims to challenge the production of welfare stigma and contribute to an agenda of re-imagining welfare.