Rationalising mutual obligation : income support discourses during the Howard years

  • Hazel Ferguson

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This thesis surveys the discursive strategies employed by Centrelink at the end of the Howard years and examines the tactics of engagement employed by income support recipients. Although much of the literature generated in immediate response to the changes made during these years concerned itself with policy evaluation, this research takes its cue from the cultural theorists Foucault and Bourdieu in order to examine the governmental rationality that underpinned and legitimised these policies. In order to do this, the research develops a critical discourse analysis of Centrelink documents, as well as narrative interviews with recipients of activity-tested benefits. This research demonstrates that income support recipients do not take up subject positions simply because they are made available by Centrelink. Rather, the discourses they employ to engage with Centrelink depend on the cultural capital already available to them and often enable them to embody legitimate sites of influence and exercise a degree of agency, in dialogue with the institutional expectations associated with their role as income support recipients.
    Date of Award2010
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBethany Anne Turner (Supervisor) & Adam Dickerson (Supervisor)

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