Divide and Conquer: Social Assistance Clients’ Competing Frames of Social Justice

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Like many other countries, the Netherlands have witnessed increasing conditionality regarding the right to social assistance. To date, research paid little attention to how recipients themselves experience (in)justice in an increasingly conditional policy landscape. Based on 53 interviews with recipients, we distinguish three different ways of framing social assistance: as a right, a transaction, or a gift. Each frame gives way to particular ideas about social justice, legitimates different feelings and leads to othering of fellow social assistance recipients. Bringing together insights from the sociology of emotions and social justice literature, the article empirically shows the diversity of ideas and feelings regarding social justice, illuminates the role of framing and feeling rules in the process, and argues that increased conditionality produces steep divisions that undermine in-group solidarity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
JournalWork, Employment and Society
Issue number4
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Apr 2021

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