Fair Conditions and Fair Consequences? Exploring New Labour, Welfare Contractualism and Social Attitudes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


This article explores the intention and effects of New Labour's ‘conditional’ welfare-to-work strategy. Conditionality has been the subject of substantive debate, with New Labour distinguishing its own contractualist welfare reforms from alternative strategies, often associated with ‘punitive’ US workfare. This article assesses whether New Labour's attempt to fashion what is described as ‘reciprocal responsibility’ in welfare arrangements avoided the commonly cited by-products of workfare. To achieve this, evidence is presented from the British Social Attitudes series, which shows a profound hardening of attitudes towards the unemployed. In light of these findings, the evidence supports arguments about the adverse effects that welfare contractualism can have for wider social relations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)359-373
JournalSocial Policy and Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012


Cite this