The unfreedom of being Other: Canadian lone mothers' experiences of poverty and 'life on the cheque'

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Date
2005
Authors
Power, Elaine
Keyword
consumer society , governmentality , lone mothers , neo-liberalism , welfare
Abstract
This paper theorizes the experiences of lone mothers living on welfare in contemporary consumer society using a governmentality framework, with particular attention to liberalism’s practices of unfreedom. Analysis suggests two main ways in which lone mothers were constructed and disciplined as Other: as ‘welfare bums’ who were not in the labour market; and as ‘flawed consumers’ without the financial resources to participate in consumer society. This type of study, with its attention to the ‘messy actualities’ of how subjects take up neo-liberal discourse, offers possibilities for the re-politicization of the Foucauldian-inspired governmentality literature by accounting for the costs of neo-liberal forms of rule, and providing insight into how it might be contested.
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