Subjectification, suffering and emotional resistance: A case study of welfare conditionality in Australia

Michelle Peterie, Greg Marston, Louise Humpage, Philip Mendes, Shelley Bielefeld, Zoe Staines

Research output: A Conference proceeding or a Chapter in BookChapterpeer-review


Compulsory Income Management (CIM) is a neoliberal approach to social security provision that has been deployed in Australia since 2007. It sees a large portion of welfare recipients’ social security payments quarantined for use on ‘essentials’ like food and bills. Quarantined funds are placed on a specially issued debit card and cannot be spent on prohibited items. Scholars have suggested that CIM – like other forms of welfare conditionality – aims to socialise individuals into identities as responsible neoliberal citizens. Yet extant studies have rarely examined the lived realities of this scheme in terms of the subjectivities it produces. Drawing on 32 interviews with individuals subject to CIM in Queensland, Australia, this chapter shows that CIM does not exclusively produce enthusiastic would-be workers. It also creates forms of dysfunction and distress that themselves serve the political and economic order by pre-emptively thwarting class resistance. In this context, the formation of affective communities of support can be a powerful form of resistance.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSocial Suffering and the Neoliberal Age
EditorsKaren Soldatic, Louise St Guillaume
Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781003131779
ISBN (Print)9780367675554
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


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