We report data from longitudinal qualitative interviews with thirteen people claiming Universal Credit (UC) immediately before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in England. The article utilizes concepts from feminist theory: “Social Reproduction” and “Depletion.” We make several novel contributions, including bringing depletion into conversation with the related concept of “contingent coping.” We argue that the lived experience of UC involves material and emotional depletion, but that UC also helps recipients to “cope” contingently with this depletion. In this sense, depletion through social reproduction is an ongoing and harmful state of being. We show how highly conditional and disciplinary welfare policies both partially mitigate but also accentuate structural pressures associated with an unequal, insecure, and competitive labor market.
|Journal||Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State & Society|
|Publication status||Published - 28 Jul 2023|
- Social reproduction
- Universal Credit