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Commodification, disabled people, and wage work in Britain

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Canadian Journal of Disability Studies
Issue number2
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This paper focuses upon the development in Britain of a new out-of-work benefit, the Employment and Support Allowance —and a new employment service intervention (the Work Programme) which is supposed to support groups described as ‘hard-to-help’ people (one of which is disabled people) into wage work. The paper examines the ways in which such a combination of social security and labour market policies can be understood in political economic terms. The paper uses a theoretical framework drawing upon the ideas of commodification and proletarianizsation to argue that, rather than being concerned with the economic position of disabled people in Britain, the development of the Employment and Support Allowance and the Work Programme was concerned with relationships between the supply of labour and wage inflation, and with developing new welfare (quasi) markets in employment services. The paper concludes that attempting to address the economic disadvantages disabled people face through what are essentially market mechanisms will entrench, rather than address, those disadvantages.