"Fitting Themselves to Become Wage-Earners" Conditionality and Incapacity for Work in the Early 20th Century

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Abstract

Welfare reform in the late 20th and early 21st centuries has been characterised by an increase in the conditions applied to benefits claimants, particularly for claimants of incapacity benefits. It is often argued that conditions have traditionally been applied to claimants of unemployment benefits, who are considered to bear some individual responsibility for improving their position, while those claiming incapacity benefits have been regarded as less individually responsible. This article, based on an analysis of disputes about sickness benefits in the early years of the 20th century, shows that such conditionality is not new. Understanding the socially constructed nature of definitions of incapacity for work, including the often unwritten conditions attached to these definitions can help us to understand the debate in welfare reform today.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-70
JournalJournal of Social Security Law
Volume119
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012

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