Welfare Conditionality: 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Welfare Conditionality

1st Edition

By Beth Watts, Suzanne Fitzpatrick


208 pages

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Paperback: 9781138119918
pub: 2018-05-14
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Welfare conditionality has become an idea of global significance in recent years. A ‘hot topic’ in North America, Australia, and across Europe, it has been linked to austerity politics, and the rise of foodbanks and destitution. In the Global South, where publicly funded welfare protection systems are often absent, conditional approaches have become a key tool employed by organisations pursuing human development goals.

The essence of welfare conditionality lies in requirements for people to behave in prescribed ways in order to access cash benefits or other welfare support. These conditions are typically enforced through benefit ‘sanctions’ of various kinds, reflecting a new vision of ‘welfare’, focused more on promoting ‘pro-social’ behaviour than on protecting people against classic ‘social risks’ like unemployment.

This new book in Routledge’s Key Ideas series charts the rise of behavioural conditionality in welfare systems across the globe, its appeal to politicians of Right and Left, and its application to a growing range of social problems. Crucially it explores why, in the context of widespread use of conditional approaches as well as apparently strong public support, both the efficacy and the ethics of welfare conditionality remain so controversial. As such, Welfare Conditionality is essential reading for students, researchers, and commentators in social and public policy, as well as those designing and implementing welfare policies.


"An excellent guide to the complex and often contentious debates about the efficacy and legitimacy of welfare conditionality." - Alan Deacon, Emeritus Professor of Social Policy, University of Leeds

"What the book does unambiguously show is – as the introduction suggests – that conditionality is intensifying in welfare systems across the world. It is this fact that makes this book timely and important." -Citizens Basic Income Trust, 22nd July 2018

"Readers of this journal will be most interested in the author’s wide-ranging discussion

of housing policy and practice as a key site for conditionality (p.67). This

includes exploration of various themes including criminalisation of vagrancy,

banning food distribution and use of anti-social behaviour orders. It also reviews

recent UK trends towards more conditional, probationary and renewable social

housing tenancies and the tendency towards segregated ‘very social’ housing

practices in France, Austria and Sweden." - Dr. Mary P. Murphy, Department of Sociology, Maynooth University, Ireland

"This is a really excellent book. It is thoughtful, reflective and well informed, and reaches some very sane and sensible, albeit controversial, conclusions. It is the latest title in Routledge’s Key Ideas series, which is committed to publishing "critical essays rather than literature reviews, offering lively and original treatments of their subject matter". Welfare Conditionality does just that and, like a number of other titles in the series that have already done so, it deserves to go into several editions. The blurb says that the book is essential reading for "students, researchers and commentators in social and public policy, as well as those designing and implementing welfare policies". This is undoubtedly the case but the publishers could have added that it is also essential reading for students, researchers and practitioners in social security and housing law." - Michael Adler, Emeritus Professor of Socio-Legal Studies, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh

"Welfare Conditionality’ by the two eminent housing and social policy scholars Beth Watts and Suzanne Fitzpatrick is an excellent addition to the ‘Key Ideas’ series of Routledge. In a very engaging and comprehensible manner, the book takes a deep dive into the matter of what welfare conditionality is, how it evolved over time, who is subjected to it, and what its personal but also soci-etal consequences are. ‘Welfare Conditionality’ is the result of a 5-year long research project funded by the ESPRC in the UK. The book espouses an effort-less and well-informed interdisciplinary approach, combining legal, moral philosophical, social policy, as well as behavioural perspectives on conditional-ity. Another core strength of the book is that although it is not empirical as such, international evidence is used to support theoretical reasoning illustratively."- Christian Lennartz, Housing Researcher, Dutch Environmental Assessment Agency

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Chapter 1. Introduction; The Broadening and Deepening of Welfare Conditionality; Conditionality, Austerity and Public Opinion; Conditionality and Social Control; This Book; Chapter 2. The Context for Conditionality; Targeting; Generosity; Entitlement; Concluding Comments; Chapter 3. The Techniques of Conditionality; Behavioural Requirements; Monitoring and Verification; Sanctions; Incentives; Concluding Comments; Chapter 4. The Subjects of Conditionality; Unemployed People; Low-Income Families with Children; Social Tenants; Homeless People; Concluding Comments; Chapter 5. The Impacts of Conditionality; Behavioural Assumptions; Effectiveness; Unintended, Spill-Over and Scar Effects; Costs; Alternatives; Concluding Comments; Chapter 6. The Ethics of Conditionality; Conditionality as an Ethical 'Problem' ; Rights; Utilitarianism; Contractualism; Communitarianism; Paternalism; Social Justice; Concluding Comments; Chapter 7. Conclusions; Putting Conditionality in the Spotlight; Putting Conditionality to the Test; Putting Conditionality in Context; Bibliography; Index

About the Authors

Beth Watts is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Policy, Housing and Equalities Research (I-SPHERE), Heriot-Watt University. She has a background in political and moral philosophy, and is interested in the application of philosophical tools in social and housing policy analysis. Beth completed her PhD comparing homelessness policy in Scotland and Ireland in 2013 at the University of York, and has previously worked at the Young Foundation, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Shelter.

Suzanne Fitzpatrick is Professor of Housing and Social Policy and Director of I-SPHERE, Heriot-Watt University. She completed her PhD on youth homelessness at the University of Glasgow in 1998. Suzanne held various posts in the Department of Urban Studies at the University of Glasgow until 2003, when she was appointed the Joseph Rowntree Professor of Housing Policy and Director of the Centre for Housing Policy at the University of York. Suzanne has a background in law, and specialises in research on homelessness and housing exclusion.

About the Series

Key Ideas

This popular series covers the main concepts, issues, debates and controversies in sociology and the social sciences. The books are concise and informative yet lively. Written by leading authorities in the field, they give students access to 'new sociology' in manageable form.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
MEDICAL / Health Care Delivery