2020 Paul Bourke Award Lecture:
On care, welfare conditionality and free riding
Care is essential to all life – we need it, we feel it, we desire it and none of us can live without it. It underpins so many practices in our lives – from reproductive work, to caring for children and the elderly, the community and ecology. This essential but mostly unpaid work is also something that the economy is dependent on, and it is mostly carried out by women. In this paper, Klein examines this “freeriding” (termed by Nancy Fraser) and its relationship with the ongoing stigmatisation of single mothers not in the labour force. Drawing on empirical research into contemporary welfare conditionality programs, Klein argues that welfare conditionality not only further stigmatises women, but can reinforce the expropriation of women’s labour. In drawing attention to the links between gender, welfare conditionality and capitalism’s dependency on care, Klein asks, what other ways can we imagine social security that values care and those that do the work?
Elise Klein (OAM) is a Senior Lecturer at the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University. She received the Academy of Social Sciences Paul Bourke Award for Early Career Research in 2019.
The Paul Bourke Lectures are named in honour of the late Paul Francis Bourke (1938–1999), President of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia from 1993–1997. These lectures are presented each year by the recipients of the previous year’s Paul Bourke Awards for Early Career Research.
This lecture is jointly hosted by the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and the Crawford School of Public Policy.