Mutual Obligation: The Construction of the Desired Citizen.

Year: 2000

Author: COOPER, S

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The welfare reform of the current federal government not only operates on the level of the restructuring of the labour market, but also on the level of the restructuring of the lives of those who receive benefits. Long-standing discourses about the nature of the young unemployed have always been part and parcel of governments= approaches to welfare, however, with the introduction of Mutual Obligation policies, we have seen even more emphasis placed upon the characteristics of the citizen, and the reform of the individual. This paper employs Foucault=s articulation of discipline, and the operations of techniques of disciplinary power, to examine how Mutual Obligation can be seen as a form of discipline which not only uses, but also produces, constructions of individualised characteristics of the young unemployed. The analysis moves beyond showing how the relationship between public discourse and social policy influence each other in terms of this construction. Rather, it suggests that the construction lies at, and plays upon, the very heart of the level of minute details of individual existence.