We are often told that mean welfare is what the public wants. Whether or not that's true, this book encourages us to at least be honest about what that entails.
It explores how diverse welfare users navigate the personal and practical hurdles of Australia’s so-called social security system, where benefits are deliberately meagre and come with strings attached. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in a region of Sydney known for ethnic diversity and socio-economic disadvantage, Emma Mitchell brings her own experience of belonging to a poor family long reliant on welfare to her research.
This book shows the different cultural resources that people bring to welfare encounters with a sensitivity and subtlety that are often missing in both sympathetic and cynical accounts of life on welfare.
“In this illuminating, warm and humane account, Mitchell begins where anyone who actually wants to understand disadvantage must begin, with the knowledge and capacities of the disadvantaged.” Mark Peel, Monash University
"Emma Mitchell has written a timely and extremely important book that brings to life the lived experiences of Australian's living on social welfare. It offers new ways of thinking about welfare futures that are socially just." Karen Soldatić, Western Sydney University
Emma Mitchell is Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Urban Geographies of Care in the Institute for Culture and Society at Western Sydney University.
2. A hand up, not a handout
3. Seatbelts and safety nets
4. Problems of access in community welfare
5. Negotiating vulnerability
6. The shame of protection
7. The art of getting by
8. Conclusion: From problems to possibilities