How Deprived People Experience Their Exclusion Via Today’s Welfare Regimes
The results I will present are taken from a research project based at Leipzig University (Germany) that compares different ideas of welfare and their impact on semantics, institutional implementation and individual (self-)conceptions of poor relief. Thus, the ‘cultures of poverty’ in the different national contexts are questioned. We use qualitative research methods to analyse biographical interviews, group discussion and documents from the field that we gathered during our stays at various sites in the UK, the Republic of Ireland and Germany.
Alienation theory comes into play by the analyses of how deprived people develop habitual attitudes that take the shape of anger and resentment on the one hand, or passiveness and depression on the other hand. These attitudes towards life and society in general can be explained (partly) by a feeling of detachment. The people we talked to express the conviction that they do not belong to society anymore and are excluded from crucial parts of its reproduction. The feelings of being alienated and living in an anomic world determines how they perceive their life world. The alienation theory I will present is thus based on and grounded in empirical research.