P33
Righteous scroungers: distribution, reciprocity and fairness after full employment

Convenors:
Ivan Rajković (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)
Discussant:
Katherine Smith (University of Manchester)
Location:
Room 3
Start time:
16 April, 2015 at 9:15
Session slots:
2

Short abstract:

Inspired by current welfare shifts, this panels calls for papers that ethnographically portray how concrete actors try to renegotiate the boundaries between work and aid, contribution and abuse, reciprocal and irreciprocal, in order to assert their deservingness in the age of unequal access to work.

Long abstract:

In industrial societies, labour market has been permeated by the idea of reciprocity. As studies of unemployment have repeatedly shown, wage work was seen as the foundation of fair exchange and legitimacy of one's rewards; without work, the unemployed were unable to achieve a righteous position. The context of deindustrialisation and the recent recession, however, further undermine this ability to reciprocate due to structural inequalities in access to work. Economies of the Global North increasingly face the issue of those who do not produce, and "take without giving"; peripheries with mass unemployment have the challenge of organising welfare provision that will not be based on work membership, as "full employment" might not happen again. This panel investigates the changes welfare systems and citizens undergo in this context. Relying on the momentum of current welfare shifts, it calls for papers that ethnographically portray how concrete actors try to renegotiate the boundaries between work and aid, contribution and abuse, reciprocal and irreciprocal, symbiotic and parasitic, in order to reconstitute ideas of fairness and assert their claims. In such way, it analyses the shifting logics of deservingness in the age when one of its foundations - work - is being questioned, yet remains normative. 1) Claims of deservingness within and beyond the ethos of work 2) New (ir)reciprocal relations with encompassing collectives (a nation-state, international bodies) and their justifications 3) Governments' usages of the reciprocity theme in austerity campaigns 4) Social dynamics of contemporary idioms of fairness 5) Political potentials of distribution after "work".