Subjectification, suffering and emotional resistance: Life on the Cashless Debit Card

Michelle Peterie*, Greg Marston, Louise Humpage, Philip Mendes, Shelley Bielefeld, Zoe Staines

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    Compulsory Income Management (CIM) is a neoliberal approach to social security provision that has been deployed in Australia since 2007. It sees a large portion of welfare recipients’ social security payments quarantined for use on ‘essentials’ like food and bills. Quarantined funds are placed on a specially issued debit card and cannot be spent on prohibited items. Scholars have suggested that CIM – like other forms of welfare conditionality – aims to socialise individuals into identities as responsible neoliberal citizens. Yet extant studies have rarely examined the lived realities of this scheme in terms of the subjectivities it produces. Drawing on 32 interviews with individuals subject to CIM in Queensland, Australia, this chapter shows that CIM does not exclusively produce enthusiastic would-be workers. It also creates forms of dysfunction and distress that themselves serve the political and economic order by pre-emptively thwarting class resistance. In this context, the formation of affective communities of support can be a powerful form of resistance.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSocial Suffering in the Neoliberal Age
    Subtitle of host publicationState Power, Logics and Resistance
    PublisherTaylor and Francis
    Number of pages17
    ISBN (Electronic)9781000580785
    ISBN (Print)9780367675561
    Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2022


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