Individualised Welfare: The Rule of the Risk-Security-Deservingness Nexus in the Material Need Policy

Saturday, 21 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Lenka KISSOVA, Masaryk University, Czech Republic
Slovakia is one of the countries where the welfare cut-backs affected also the basic benefit in material need. The individualisation rationality seems to be the leading one as the main argumentation includes ‘motivation’, ‘adjustment’, ‘self-responsibility’ and ‘deservingness’. In the paper I argue that the the ‘deservingness’ phenomenon further co-occurs with the security and risk-prevention arguments. Based on the critical discourse analysis of the parliamentary debates I argue that the formation of a risky other legitimises the adoption of measures which restrict social benefits and exclude people in need from solidarity.

The goal of this paper is to examine the perspective of the policy-makers, motivation and arguments legitimising the recently adopted Act on benefits in material need from the critical perspective, based on the political discourse analysis. Welfare beneficiaries are stigmatised from multiple perspectives – on the basis of ethnicity, social or economic status as they are depicted as abusers, living an abnormal and pathological life. They become subjects of regulation and control, re-establishment of the social order. Policy objectives seem to be legitimised in the political discourse through the images of risk and threat to the society, using the assistance beneficiaries as subjects of these security threats, having an ethnic dimension – and so, aiming at the social, economic and symbolic exclusion of the Roma.