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Informal mechanisms of support and conditionality in intensive family-based interventions: influencing behaviour change of vulnerable families HSA Early.

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Presentation on theme: "Informal mechanisms of support and conditionality in intensive family-based interventions: influencing behaviour change of vulnerable families HSA Early."— Presentation transcript:

1 Informal mechanisms of support and conditionality in intensive family-based interventions: influencing behaviour change of vulnerable families HSA Early Careers Tuesday 15 th April 2014 Emily Ball

2 Presentation Structure The main themes; -Welfare reform and Conditionality - The problem of lone parent families -Crime and Anti-social Behaviour -Interventions through Troubled Families Programme and social housing Why is this interesting? Theories of governmentality Methods Questions

3 New Labour and Coalition consensus on welfare reform and conditionality Welfare reform problematized in political agenda due to concerns about high public expenditure on social security and the ‘dependency culture’ being on benefits creates Symbolism of social assistance has shifted from being about insurance for vulnerable people to being about a paternalistic mechanism to push recipients to adhere to social values and be responsible citizens This has justified conditionality and contractualism of welfare entitlement to incorporate a larger range of previously vulnerable groups- this include lone parents

4 Why does it matter- re-visiting the old debate Of two million lone parent families in the UK, 92% are headed by women with 91% of lone parents not sharing child care responsibilities equally with their children(s) other parent (Gingerbread, 2012) Debates about lone motherhood and social assistance is historically contingent and constantly shifts between deserving and undeserving discourses (see Lewis, 1998) Mothers have received special attention because of their low employment rates and high levels of poverty, social housing tenancies and welfare reliance- the answer out of poverty is work This is used as a basis to link government claims about single parents, unemployment and crime which is sensationalised to validate a rise in the ‘underclass’- a social problem where the benefits system makes claimants idle, reliant and not responsible role models for their children. This has consequences for society where single parents’ worklessness is a social threat rather than a lived reality Public support through anti-welfare populism where discourses of welfare dependency, criminality and single parenthood means single mothers are represented as being over-committed to their children or using childcare as an excuse to avoid paid employment in addition to benefits being overly generous.

5 Criminalising single mums Losing the labels link (Gingerbread) Qjekxe8zjFw Qjekxe8zjFw The perceived problem as a pre- condition to delinquency also feeds into government ideologies of what has ‘broken’ Britain; 1)Absence of father figure from the home of the child committing ASB 2) Perceived inability of maternal care to discipline delinquent children offered in these homes 3) Those who commit crime are emblematic of contemporary society- single parent families, drugs, sexual deviancy, hooliganism, all negative images of a broken home and marital discord (Young, 1996) (Photo source: ap946IjiEZE/UEvIVmCPuyI/AAAAAAAABQY/Wv F9s8wAq_g/s1600/vicky_pollard.jpg


7 Tackling welfare dependency- and how this links to single mums The problem of welfare dependency was to be combatted by New Labour and the Coalition by making receipt of welfare benefits conditional It was anticipated this could be achieved through behaviouralist discourses to promote responsible and positive behaviour This has translated into citizenship and social responsibility discourses through housing tenancies, employment status and effective parenting

8 Mechanisms of control- demand for disciplined tenants Conditional Housing policy through the Housing Act 2004 Control ‘deviance’ through surveillance and uncertainty of social housing tenancies, instruments such as parenting orders, anti-social behaviour orders being widely available and quicker routes to eviction and repossession Can classify certain households (i.e. social housing) but also the individuals within these, making single mothers the most vulnerable to eviction and to be governed

9 Mechanisms of control- demand for disciplined tenants Troubled Families Programme at the point of eviction Troubled families are referred for family interventions when they qualify for three out of the four following criteria; -involvement in ASB -have children not in school -have an adult on out of work benefits -cause high costs to the public purse Single female parents would often qualify for two out of four of the criteria without actually having to be involved in any sort of ASB Key worker model and referrals to other services and agencies Appears banal but when pieced together can exert social control over problem people using resources of multiple agencies Deep seated emotional and physical problems- acknowledgement of complex social fabric? Is conditionality effective?

10 Conditionality or social justice? Law court procedures often have a gender gaze- ASB as a gendered issued can be exposed when scrutinising ASB possession orders. In 2/3 cases, where it has reached court, the woman is not the perpetrator but was still held responsible and was still expected to take responsibility- it is mostly males that get ASBOs but women are more likely to be evicted Blamed for raising criminals rather than citizens through neglecting responsibilities as a mother and penalised with reduced access to housing, employment and state benefits. “lone parent woman as being feckless and wilfully responsible for the poverty in which she is confined to live and thus undeserving of either public sympathy or economic support” (Phoenix, 1996; 175) justifies material sanctions and refocusing of her rights. Claims for more parental authority, parental support in children’s health and education and higher labour participation rates. Too many unnecessary bargaining tools used against lone mothers on benefits- which is de-gendered in economic and housing policy but not de- gendered in the domestic and legal spheres- civilly helpless.

11 Aims, theory and methods To critically consider the changing conditional nature of pastoral interventions in relation to housing and anti-social behaviour and the impacts on lone parents as a vulnerable group caught between identities of motherhood, employment and poverty Governmentality and theories of power which invite the law into family life in order to engineer the sovereignty of the traditional family through the blurring of law, social services and gendered rhetoric. Resistance by single parents is therefore difficult when facing legal court procedures. Or employment These continuities in the law in traditional and gendered visions of the family leave single parents civilly helpless in the governance of the rational subject. Qualitative approach using in-depth interviews with families involved at different stages of the troubled families programme, key workers and practitioners Histories of dependence on welfare, participation in the programme, experiences of sanctioning, any difficulties, impacts on the expectations of work in regards to childcare and family life, physical and emotional health and coping strategies to deal with balancing work and care. What happened when these ideologies met the subjects- how they were lived and contested

12 Thank you for listening I would value any problems you see with my research, how to move towards developing my research questions and any studies I should be aware of. Conclusion

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