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Affective technologies of welfare deterrence in Australia and the United Kingdom

Mills, C. ORCID: 0000-0003-0615-234X & Klein, E. (2021). Affective technologies of welfare deterrence in Australia and the United Kingdom. Economy and Society, 50(3), pp. 397-422. doi: 10.1080/03085147.2021.1875692


Across the political spectrum of different historical periods, welfare deterrence has shaped social security and immigration policy in both Australia and the United Kingdom. Deterrence discourages access to state welfare through the production and mobilization of negative affect to deter specific groups from claiming state support, and by crafting public affect (of fear and disgust) about these target populations in order to garner consent for punitive policies. In this paper, we argue that deterrence works as a human technology where the crafting of negative affect operates as a technology of statecraft. Through critical juxtaposition and multiple genealogies of deterrence, this paper meshes time and space, and colony/colonizer and metropole, to show the historical and contemporary connectivity of the affective nature of deterrence. We identify five main operations that produce the ‘feel’ of deterrence: stigmatization by design, destitution by design, deterrent architecture, the control of movement, and the centrality of labour; as well as tracing the political economy of deterrence.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright © 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Publisher Keywords: affect; deterrence; welfare; immigration; social security stigmatization
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonization. Emigration and immigration. International migration
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Healthcare Services Research & Management
Text - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

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