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Type: Thesis
Title: Poverty in the 'age of affluence': a governmental approach.
Author: Bletsas, Angelique
Issue Date: 2010
School/Discipline: School of History and Politics
Abstract: This thesis addresses the growing tendency to treat poverty in Australia as an individualised problem. Analysis is situated in relation to the restructuring of welfare in western liberal states in the post-war period, highlighting the way that the welfare state ‘crisis’ appears to correspond with a new ‘consensus’ on poverty as individualised. Examining the way that poverty is formulated in recent welfare policy and governmental texts it is shown that this positioning of poverty comes increasingly to be premised upon the idea that a state of ‘affluence’ has been achieved. Importantly this trend in understanding poverty as an individualised problem is argued to occur across the ideological spectrum. It is demonstrated that, through reference to a ‘paradigm of affluence’, contemporary representative authors from both the right and the left constitute poverty today as ‘residual’ and thus as primarily individualised and behavioural. Applying tools of analysis from post-structuralism and governmentality studies it is argued that both poverty and affluence constitute historic ‘events’ – interventions in the way social life is thought and organised – and not simply demographic phenomena. Therefore, in contrast to existing writing on affluence, within which affluence is seen to have replaced poverty as an evolutionary stage of development, the argument advanced in this thesis is that the relevance of poverty and affluence to particular rationalities of government is not premised upon their level of incidence. Instead it is argued that both poverty and affluence have functioned as ‘problematics’ of government – sites through which the project of government is made meaningful. In this way an emergent governmentality of affluence is posited. In its premise of a governmental rationality of affluence the thesis provides a framework for analysing the on-going restructuring of the Australian welfare state, and liberal states more broadly. Treating conceptions of poverty and of affluence not simply as ‘natural’ phenomena, but as interpretative events and motifs of government, the thesis also provides a counter-point through which to resist individualised conceptions of poverty and the punitive policies to which they often lead.
Advisor: Bacchi, Carol Lee
Mayer, Peter Baldwin
Spencer, Vicki Ann
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of History and Politics, 2010
Keywords: poverty in Australia; politics of affluence; welfare reform; poverty wars
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