Policy documents are often a useful source for understanding how language and imagery contribute to the construction of society’s assumptions, values and beliefs. They also demonstrate the privileging and “packaging” of a particular ideology. The government’s 2010 Green paper, 21st Century Welfare, and the White Paper, Universal Credit: Welfare that Works, are good examples of how such documents areinstrumental in constructing a discourse about social security that attempts to justify a deepening of Thatcher’s brand of neo-liberalisation.
The documents marginalise the structural causes of persistent and inevitable unemployment and of poverty by attempting to linguistically transform these into individual pathologies of benefit “dependency” and “worklessness”. The conservative response to conservative creations and definitions is a raft of policy measures that are about punitive conditionality and removal of lifeline benefits.
The documents indicate a clear conflation of ideas about (a) simplification of the benefits system, (b) work “incentives” and…
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