History of the Human Sciences 20 (4):129-146 (2007)

The importance of employment exchanges in the governance of mass unemployment in the 1930s presented social researchers with a rich site for the investigation of the meaning of unemployment from a governmental perspective, or more precisely, of how that meaning is encoded into social spaces. Comparing writing from the 1930s and earlier with my own contemporary research in Jobcentres, Benefits Agencies and Jobcentre Plus offices facilitates an understanding of how that meaning, and its literally concrete means of deployment, has shifted. Observation conducted in these institutional spaces adds an empirical dimension to extant discursive analyses of the governance of unemployment. Broadly, there has been a move from an overt, gendered stigmatization of being without paid work as a moral failing deserving of penance in the 1930s employment exchange, to an attempt to discursively rearticulate unemployment with a mainstream nexus of work-consumerism in Jobcentre Plus. These changes are also indicative of broader societal shifts in the values ascribed to work and consumerism, and the ways in which a governmentally consecrated subjectivity can be achieved
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DOI 10.1177/0952695107082495
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Outline of a Theory of Practice.Pierre Bourdieu - 1981 - Human Studies 4 (3):273-278.
The Subject and Power.Michel Foucault - 1982 - Critical Inquiry 8 (4):777-795.
Pascalian Meditations.Pierre Bourdieu - 2000 - Stanford University Press.

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