Beyond ‘Deserving:’ An Examination of the Moral Regulatory Function of Welfare Policing During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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Date
2021-06-30
Authors
Semmelhack, Isabelle
Keyword
moral regulation , Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) , Covid-19 , "welfare fraud" , Canadian welfare policy
Abstract
In this paper I argue that the Canadian government’s disproportionate spending on the policing of ‘welfare fraud’ constitutes a fiscal investment in the moral regulation of the larger populous. I propose that by reinforcing divisive notions of deservedness, the government seeks to foster capitalist subjectivities, a term which I define as a complacency with limited social welfare and compliance with capitalist norms of exploitation and productivity. However, as my research findings suggest, governmental responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have undermined the regulatory function of the ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving poor’ metric, resulting in the expansion of anti-poverty discourse and calls for progressive social welfare reform.
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