How Deprived People Experience Their Exclusion Via Today’s Welfare Regimes

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 10:50
Oral Presentation
Franz ERHARD, Leipzig University, Germany
My talk investigates how people who often experience numerous traits of deprivation deal with life situations of dependency and social exclusion. I will dwell upon typical modes of reacting to harsh and severe life circumstances that appear to be imposed by outer forces – e.g. the implementation of neoliberal welfare policies by Job Centres, prejudices towards seemingly ‘undeserving poor’ etc.

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.