Universal credit and behaviour change: an investigation of universal credit’s influences on claimants’ benefit and employment behaviour change

Fei, Shuo (2021) Universal credit and behaviour change: an investigation of universal credit’s influences on claimants’ benefit and employment behaviour change. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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This thesis investigates the policy implementation of Universal Credit (UC), and how welfare behavioural conditionality is interpreted and co-produced by stakeholders and recipients in the United Kingdom (UK). It is inspired by neoliberal and government paternalist discourse which reveal that individuals can make mistakes, errors and failures in judgment. Hence, paternalist intervention by governments is warranted to correct failures and further one’s own good and that of the whole society.

This thesis challenges the paternalistic assumption that wellbeing can be defined by the government and achieved exclusively through correcting individual reflective behavioural processes. It provides a complex picture of how, when and why behavioural changes, including a broad discussion relating the implementation of welfare conditionality to wellbeing.

Empirical data is collected through face-to-face, in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 32 respondents who have past experiences claiming working-age social security and UC, and 18 stakeholders in South London. Interview transcripts are analysed by employing selective, thematic and axial coding. Empirical findings are analysed using a broad discussion on stakeholders’ perceptions and experiences dealing with UC recipients, and recipients’ views and experiences with benefit claiming and responding to welfare behavioural conditionality, with a focus on change in benefit- and employment- related behaviour.

Based on empirical findings, this thesis presents an ontological, epistemological and methodological contributions to knowledge, and re-conceptualises the meaning of harm – in policy implementation, and at community and social levels – highlighting that it is warranted to implement protections from institutional, communal and social barriers, and capital relationships in the neoliberal and digital era. Overall, this thesis contributes to understanding the appropriate state intervention and the legitimacy between the state and recipients.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Stafford, Bruce
Roberts, Simon
Keywords: Universal Credit; Employment Behaviour Change; Government Paternalism; Administrative Burdens
Subjects: H Social sciences > HC Economic history and conditions
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Social Sciences, Law and Education > School of Sociology and Social Policy
Item ID: 64108
Depositing User: Fei, Shuo
Date Deposited: 25 Mar 2021 15:39
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2023 04:30
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/64108

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