Re-moralising or de-moralising? The coalition government's approach to 'problematic' populations

Kate Brown, Ruth Patrick

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The relationship between ‘morality’ and social policy has been a preoccupation of the Coalition Government in the UK since it came to power in May 2010. Social unrest has intensified this interest as well as playing a role in reinvigorating longstanding public debates on the ethics of social welfare. Speaking in the aftermath of the riots and looting which took place in August 2011, the Prime Minister framed the problems in terms of a crisis of moral standards: ‘some of the worst aspects of human nature tolerated, indulged – sometimes even incentivised – by a state and its agencies that in parts have become literally de-moralised’ (Cameron, 2011). Having already embarked on substantial efforts to redraw the boundaries of the welfare state via initiatives such as ‘free’ schools, housing benefit and welfare reform and the introduction of student fees, the Government’s response to such unrest seems to have been to step-up the ‘re-moralisation’ agenda, enhancing welfare sanctions for ‘misbehaviours’ and further penalising failure to participate adequately in the labour market.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-4
Number of pages4
JournalPeople, Place & Policy online
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2012

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