EUROPE: European Social Survey (ESS) reveal findings about attitudes toward Universal Basic Income across Europe

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Sat, 20/01/2018 - 10:00pm in


News, Europe, welfare

Map of Europe. Credit to: Flickr   The European Social Survey (ESS) has published its 2016 Round 8 results, which include, for the first time in its history, a polling question asking participants to express their attitude to the hypothetical introduction of a basic income scheme in society.   The 34,604 participants across 18 European countries were asked whether, overall,

The post EUROPE: European Social Survey (ESS) reveal findings about attitudes toward Universal Basic Income across Europe appeared first on BIEN.

The Role of Money in Social Life: Morality and Power in the World of the Poor

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Mon, 08/01/2018 - 4:37am in

by Ariel Wilkis*

“Perhaps behind the coin is God.” — Jorge Luis Borges, The Zahir (1949) 

My book The Moral Power of Money: Morality and Economy in the Life of the Poor (Stanford University Press, 2017) offers a new focus for interpreting the multiple power relations that configure the world of the poor. It analyzes heterogeneous money exchanges among the urban poor in Buenos Aires and regards how the money circulates on formal, informal and illegal markets, through welfare and NGO assistance, and around political, religious and family ties. Along this path, the moral dimension of money plays a critical role in the production of economic, class, political, gender and generational bonds. In an innovative dialogue that includes Pierre Bourdieu’s sociology of power and the sociology of money of Viviana Zelizer, this book proposes the concept of moral capital to interpret the connections between money, morality and power. This sociology allowed us to understand that money is more like a puzzle comprised of several pieces. The concept of moral capital allows reveals that the pieces of money are shaped by ideas and moral feelings, and that each of these pieces differs from the others. The dynamic of these pieces—a dynamic involving hierarchies, tensions and contradictions—challenges the definition and the negotiation of people’s status and power in specific social orders. This research explores the roles of money that do not appear among its functions in economy textbooks. Along the way, we hit upon subjects such as hierarchy, domination, status and competition. In short, the proposal of this book is to build a toolbox based on the moral sociology of money to understand the role money plays in social life today.
The Moral Power of Money morality and economy in the life of the poorIn Argentina and in other parts of the world, the capitalist credit market has expanded to play a key role in the economic lives of the poor. The financialization of the economy shapes the economic life of the poor, creating spheres for distinction and moral domination. The poor must make an effort to have their virtues recognized in order to access credit. By examining how consumer credit began expanding to low-income sectors in 2003, chapter one unveils the moral hierarchies rooted in the circulation of lent money.  This chapter shows the moral ubiquity of money lent in heterogeneous situations, both formal and informal where money circulates. It also reveals how moral capital becomes a guarantee that sustains the power relations at the core of these situations. For those with scarce economic and cultural assets, the daily management of finances involves fighting to have their values acknowledged. Moral capital is their passport. However, like all forms of acknowledgment, it is rare and thus can become a form of domination that some are forced to accept in order to access the material benefits capitalism has to offer.
The chapter two analyzes how the underground economy operates as a moral space of income. This exploration will reveal the dynamics of questioning and legitimizing what has to be done to earn money. Therefore, the concept of moral capital is a useful instrument for understanding how this piece circulates or is taken out of circulation in response to a moral assessment of people’s actions. Having moral capital is the way in to these economic transactions that are not regulated by law. Informal and illegal markets are moral spaces where the legitimacy of money earned comes into play. To get involved in these transactions, moral hierarchies are established among participants and they are the also the prerequisites for successful participation.
The conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs have become the new paradigm of the struggle against poverty. These programs have progressively expanded to around thirty countries in the region that has come to be known as the Global South. The expansion of CCT programs changed the household budgets of the poor and became a focus of public debate. The use of money donated by the State became a way to morally discredit the poor. Money donated to the poor instantly becomes a source of suspicion. To understand this, the chapter three reconstructed the place of money donated by the state in different hierarchies of money. This chapter identifies the different strategies individuals use to elude the biases associated with this type of money such as stigma cleansing rituals, exclusion strategies and silence in response to such judgments. Beyond the efforts to avoid the stigma associated with donated money, the reconstructed scenes show how monetary hierarchies uphold power relations among those who have the authority to judge and those who must acquiesce to such biases.
Through the processes of democratization in Argentina (and most of Latin America) that began at the beginning of the 1980s, political scientists and sociologists began examining money in political life through the financial of political parties and the political clientelism. The chapter four goes beyond a narrative of money’s instrumental use in politics. Has the monetization of political activities dissolved values, commitments, and loyalties among the poor? Is this corruption or an ethical exchange among people who lack cash but possess moral capital? This chapter explores how politics involves power relations that can be understood through the moral dimension of money. This chapter shows how residents of Villa Olimpia, a villa miseria (slum), made political money the accounting unit to acknowledge the fulfillment of political obligations that bind leaders and their followers together in relationships of power. To put it more succinctly, this community places political money at the core of its collective life.
The chapter five narrates the competition between political and religious leaders of Villa Olimpia. It shows how these power struggles are rooted in the accumulation of moral capital associated with the pieces of money. Both religious and political networks create social distinctions among their members. While circulating, political and sacrificed money carry a series of social orders and hierarchies of money that often overlap. Each piece is indecipherable outside of the hierarchy of money and at the same time projects a social hierarchy. Between the two pieces, there is fiery competition for the range of objects and people involved. These two puzzle pieces, regulated by specific systems of feelings and perspectives, compete with one another.
The previous chapters explore how money produces political hierarchies as it circulates. The last one presents the logic at work when money circulates in the domestic sphere. It explores how the social order of the family is rooted in money. The pieces of money produce a hierarchy among family members (fathers and sons, husbands and wives) to determine each family’s ranking in the social order of the neighborhood. The different pieces of money (with their hierarchies, tensions, conversions) form a unit that allows us to observe and understand the family universe. On the one hand, they help us understand intergenerational relations. The parents instill the value of safeguarded money in their children. This piece of money shows how people create and recreate the family social order in the sphere of money, which involves both mutual assistance and conflicts, helping complete family projects or tearing them apart. On the other hand, they help us understand gender relations as well. Safeguarded money provides a piece of evidence that applies to all the pieces. Its circulation carries gendered obligations; men and women are judged based on whether they meet these obligations. Poor women are viewed positively when they safeguard their households both emotionally and economically. In the hands of women money had to be used to guarantee family continuity. Any other use of the money would be questionable, transforming the safeguarded money into suspicious money.
The contributions from the moral sociology of money stem from an ethnographic reconstruction of the everyday life of poor people who live in Villa Olimpia. In this work, I identified and assembled the pieces of money that best captured the dynamics of solidarity and conflict that characterized social bonds. However, the book takes the arguments, concepts and empirical evidence presented in the hope of reimagining economic sociology (Aspers, Dodd and Anderberg 2015) outside Villa Olimpia and the world of the poor. The moral sociology of money that I propose is a theoretical and methodological toolbox that can be applied to other social worlds, establishing bridges with other areas of knowledge in sociology.
* Ariel Wilkis is a researcher at the National Council of Scientific and Technological Research (CONICET) and Co-Director of the Center for Social Studies of Economics at the National University of San Martín, Argentina. 

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Universal Credit - Universal Torment: once more an attack on the conditions of the whole working class

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 22/11/2017 - 5:50am in

image/jpeg iconPhotoshop versionUnemployment historybig.jpg

The official line is that universal credit is being introduced to make things easier, simpler, gather a multitude of payments together to benefit people generally. As if fine-tuning bourgeois bureaucracy is a matter for anyone apart from itself and those it serves. The reality for those on the receiving-end is catastrophic to say the least.

For anyone relying on state benefits, especially new claimants, the system has become increasingly erratic, unfathomable and more and more subject to the arbitrary whims of individual bureaucrats.

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AUSTRALIA: Alfred Deakin Institute Policy Forum – The Future of Work and Basic Income Options for Australia

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 06/10/2017 - 5:00pm in

Jon Altman and Eva Cox. Credit to: Alfred Deakin Institute (Deakin University, Melbourne)   The Alfred Deakin Institute at Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, hosted a forum on the 17th and 18th August discussing the concept of a universal basic income.   Workshop co-convenor Jon Altman (Deakin University and ANU) suggested that part of the impetus for the workshop was

The post AUSTRALIA: Alfred Deakin Institute Policy Forum – The Future of Work and Basic Income Options for Australia appeared first on BIEN.

Lavaland Holiday Camp (1970-1970)

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Fri, 22/09/2017 - 2:06am in

Lavaland was a holiday camp on the outskirts of Scarfolk built around an active volcano, which had been designated an area of outstanding natural peril.

It opened on the first of May 1970 and closed on the first of May 1970, a mere eight hours after opening, following a catastrophic volcanic event that killed nearly three thousand guests and could be heard as far away as the bowling green in Torquay.

The Council's Tourism & Leisure Department claimed that the tragedy was a freak accident that could not have been predicted. It soon became apparent, however, that the victims were people the council had previously tried, unsuccessfully, to evict from the town: children born out of wedlock, foreigners, the poor, people with lisps, and women with ideas of their own, among others.

Cartoon: What if we talked about white poverty the way we talk about black poverty?

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 19/09/2017 - 11:51pm in

To state the obvious, I am not saying that we shouldn't care about white poverty or that poor whites haven't had to endure their share of shaming from a punitive culture that uses wealth to determine the value of a human being (a source of condescension, it's important to note, that originates from the right and its cult of market fundamentalism).

That said, there's been a spate of sympathetic talk lately about the plight of working-class whites, expressing concern about the loss of economic opportunity in rural America and the rise of the opioid epidemic. A mythology has formed around the forgotten white man, and outrage has been manufactured -- mostly by Fox and other conservative outlets -- to blame the left for his struggles. This narrative has been so powerful that conventional wisdom spewers tend to forget that Trump's voter base was relatively affluent and did not in fact represent the working class. (Valorization of white, blue collar men as the epitome of American authenticity is nothing new, of course. See: countless advertising campaigns from the past several decades.)

Again, I have no intention of diminishing the problems of anyone in the throes of poverty; yet I can't help wonder where all this sympathy has been for black neighborhoods suffering from a lack of economic opportunity, or for the problems of addiction faced by communities of color. The condescending (and inaccurate) language used to describe black poverty is widespread among mainstream commentators on the right.

Commenter casbott below shared a link to this thought experiment by Anil Dash, imagining "if Asian Americans saw white Americans the way white Americans see black Americans." I hadn't seen it, but it's making a similar point.

Follow Jen on Twitter at @JenSorensen

Strange bedfellows

Published by Matthew Davidson on Sat, 26/08/2017 - 4:43pm in

Via MacroBusiness, here's the TL;DR of the Business Council of Australia's submission to a 2012 Senate inquiry into social security allowances:

  • "The rate of the Newstart Allowance for jobseekers no longer meets a reasonable community standard of adequacy and may now be so low as to represent a barrier to employment.
  • "Reforming Newstart should be part of a more comprehensive review to ensure that the interaction between Australia’s welfare and taxation systems provides incentives for people to participate where they can in the workforce, while ensuring that income support is adequate and targeted to those in greatest need.
  • "As well as improving the adequacy of Newstart payments, employment assistance programs must also be reformed to support the successful transition to work of the most disadvantaged jobseekers."

Not only did the BCA's confederacy of Scrooges suffer unaccustomed pangs of sympathy, the Liberal Party senator chairing the inquiry also agreed that Newstart is excessively miserly. However, he failed to recommend raising the allowance, saying:

"There is no doubt the evidence we received was compelling. Nobody want's [sic] to see a circumstance in which a family isn't able to feed its children, no one wants to see that in Australia. But we can't fund these things by running up debt."

Sigh. (Here we go…) There is no need to "fund these things", whether it be by "running up debt" or any other means. The Federal Government creates money when it spends. We, as a country, run out of the capacity to feed our children when we run out of food. We cannot run out of dollars, since we can create the dollars without limit.

The government does however, at the moment, have a purely voluntary policy of matching, dollar-for-dollar, all spending with government bond sales. There's no good reason for this; as Bill Mitchell says, it's just corporate welfare. Even so, selling bonds is not issuing new debt. Bonds are purchased with RBA credits (or "reserves", if you prefer). The purchasing institution simply swaps a non-interest-bearing asset (reserves) at the RBA for an interest-bearing one (bonds), still at the RBA. It's just like transferring some money from a savings account to a higher-interest term deposit account at a commercial bank; do we say that this is a lending operation? Of course not.

There is no fiscal reason why the government should punish the unemployed to the extent that they become an unemployable underclass. Even if we are generous and assume the good senator and his colleagues on the inquiry are just ignorant about how the economy works, we are still bound to conclude that there must be some (not so ignorant) people in government, who do want to see people suffering for no just reason.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017 - 5:22pm

Published by Matthew Davidson on Wed, 15/02/2017 - 5:34pm in

I'm ranting altogether too much over local "journalism", and this comment introduces nothing new to what I've posted many times before, but since the Advocate won't publish it:

Again I have to wonder why drivel produced by the seething hive mind of News Corp is being syndicated by my local newspaper. This opinion comes from somebody who appears to be innumerate (eight taxpayers out of ten doesn't necessarily - or even very likely - equal eight dollars out of every ten) economically illiterate, and empirically wrong.

Tax dollars do not fund welfare, or any other function of the federal government. Currency issuing governments create money when they spend and destroy money when they tax. "Will there be enough money?" is a nonsensical question when applied to the federal government. As Warren Mosler puts it, the government neither has nor does not have money. If you work for a living, it is in your interest that the government provides money for those who otherwise wouldn't have any, because they spend it - and quickly. Income support for the unemployed becomes income for the employed pretty much instantly. Cutting back on welfare payments means cutting back on business revenues.

And the claim that the "problem" of welfare is increasing in scale is just wrong. Last year's Household, Income, and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) report shows dependence on welfare payments by people of working age declining pretty consistently since the turn of the century. This opinion piece is pure class war propaganda. None of us can conceivably benefit in any way from pushing people into destitution in the moralistic belief that they must somehow deserve it.

Sustainability and the political economy of welfare

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 16/06/2016 - 10:00am in

Welfare is commonly understood in socio-economic terms of equity, highlighting distributive issues within growing capitalist economies. In times when the unequal distribution of wealth in the ‘advanced’ capitalist world has returned to levels of the 19th century, the question of whether we can and should ‘afford the rich’ is indeed central. The traditional response of welfare researchers – that issues of inequality can be solved by redistributing the primary incomes of capital and labour within economically growing economies – however, is not only difficult to achieve in an increasingly unfettered global capitalism but is also controversial. While GDP, income growth and rising material standards of living are normally not questioned as political priorities, there is growing evidence that Western production and consumption patterns and the associated welfare standards are not generalizable to the rest of the planet if environmental concerns are to be considered. For that to happen we would indeed need four to five Earths.

Koch sustainability welfare

In an attempt to take planetary boundaries such as climate change, the nitrogen cycle, and biodiversity loss seriously, our new book Sustainability and the Political Economy of Welfare discusses the implications for ‘the’ economy and associated welfare standards. It raises the issue of what would be required to make welfare societies ecologically sustainable. In doing so, we regard the current financial, economic and political crisis and the corresponding recalibrations in Western welfare state institutions as an impetus to also considering environmental concerns. We are furthermore concerned with the main institutional obstacles to the achievement of sustainable welfare and wellbeing (especially the social structures of global finance-driven capitalism), how these could feasibly be overcome, and how researchers can assist policy-makers and activists in promoting synergy between economic, social and environmental policies that are conducive to globally sustainable welfare systems.

These are complex issues that tend to overstretch the terms of reference of single disciplines. My co-editor Oksana Mont and I felt accordingly privileged to have the opportunity to assemble an interdisciplinary team of researchers from five Lund University faculties as well as Kate Soper, Hubert Buch-Hansen and Ian Gough, who wrote the preface, and to work together for eight months at the Pufendorf Institute for Advanced Studies. We subdivided the book into three parts: conceptual issues of sustainable welfare, policies towards the establishment of sustainable welfare and emerging practices of sustainable welfare in countries such as France, the US, Sweden and China.

Our concept of sustainable welfare attempts to integrate the two previously separate disciplines of welfare and sustainability research. Taking environmental limits seriously in welfare theorising means, first of all, to ask whose welfare should be met. Distributive principles underlying existing welfare systems would need to be extended to include ‘non-citizens’, those affected in other countries and future human beings. Hence, sustainable welfare is oriented towards the satisfaction of human needs within ecological limits, from the intergenerational and global perspective. It is only at global level that thresholds for matter and energy throughput as well as for greenhouse gas emissions can be determined in order to effectively mitigate global environmental challenges such as climate change. At the same time, these biophysical conditions and global thresholds delineate the room for manoeuvre within which national and local economies can evolve and within which welfare can be provided. This suggests a new mix of private, state, commons and individual property forms with a much lesser steering role for the market than at present.

Sayer afford the richIn the policy-oriented second part of the book, several authors place emphasis on the detrimental effects of the financial system within the international political economy and highlight various degrowth visions of practical transformation strategies that could frame more specific policy packages. Here, research has a potentially vital role to play but can only do so in close dialogue with diverse societal actors – particularly if it produces insights into the mechanisms, groupings of actors and their institutional embedding as well as into the ways in which governments and governance networks may support voluntary and civic bottom-up initiatives. If sustainable welfare is going to be practiced at all, then it will most likely be in different ways in different countries due to their diverse points of departure in terms of the institutional particulars of market coordination and welfare systems. While research on the potential diversity of future welfare systems is still in its infancy, it is important to explore the opportunities and potentials that exist within current welfare systems since these must be built upon in any move towards sustainable welfare.

Part III of the book argues that a potential opportunity for the establishment of sustainable welfare lies in the diversity of perceptions about the ‘good life’ and the relationship between individuals and governments in initiating transformative processes and legitimizing sustainable lifestyles. People are becoming increasingly disenchanted with the consumer culture due to its growing negative side effects such as time scarcity, high levels of stress, traffic congestion and the increasing displacement of other pleasures of life and wellbeing through the shopping mall culture. We may already find seeds of alternative visions and practices in craft movements, the service economy, socio-ecological enterprises and forms of collaborative consumption. A ‘slower’ life and more free time should not be seen as a threat to the ‘Western way of life’ but as sources of individual and communitarian wellbeing, genuine individual fulfilment and opportunities for greater involvement with various social networks that have the potential of improving social relations and creating trust. This could also facilitate to breaking the link between resource-intensive economic growth and hegemonic perceptions of societal ‘progress’ – and to ending the monopoly of the prevalent consumer culture over alternative definitions of wellbeing and the ‘good life’.

The post Sustainability and the political economy of welfare appeared first on Progress in Political Economy (PPE).

Government Resurrects Four Week Wait for Welfare

Published by Anonymous (not verified) on Wed, 16/09/2015 - 11:07am in


Senate, welfare