No One Left behind? an Institutional Ethnography on Indigenous Women's Experiences in Social Assistance

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 10:00
Location: Hörsaal 6C P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Li-Fang LIANG, Institute of Health and Welfare Policy, National Yang-Ming University, Taiwan
This study explores the disjuncture, which is resulted from the gaps between the governmental definition of needs and people’s subjective one. Relying upon institutional ethnography as the approach to investigation, the inquiry starts with Orchid, an indigenous single mother’s failed experience in applying for social assistance to solve her daily financial difficulties. Taking upon Orchid’s experience as the standpoint of inquiry, I interview the different social actors who participate in the institutional processes to understand the similar experiences shared by Orchid and the other “unqualified” applicants for social assistance.

Anchored with the embodied experiences in the local, this study traces beyond what happens at the specific time and space to examine the trans-local social relations of social assistance, which coordinate the particularity of individuals’ experiences in encountering government policy and system. In this article, first I examine the institutional discourses, which attach to poverty and social assistance in the context of contemporary Taiwanese society. Then I illustrate how the government policy and institutional processes work to create the group of people who are eligible for entitling social assistance. Third, I explicate why and how the particular group of indigenous women are “unqualified” for social assistance. I examine how the material constraints and ideological discourses work together to (re)shape their gendered and racialized experiences.