Kenneth Veitch – Welfare and the Politics of Contract


Event Date: 30 April 2014
The Institute of Advanced Study
Millburn House
Millburn Hill Road
University of Warwick Science Park

The Kent Law School presents:

The Public Life of Private Law

An ESRC Seminar Series

Seminar 4: Protest, Precarisation, Possibility

Increasingly, private law appears in the the government of unruly political movement and resistance – through the privatisation of public space and the designation of protest as trespass; through the contractualisation of public services and the discipline of labour; through the generation of private spheres where government power is deployed in unanticipated ways.  How should we characterise the experience of government through private law? What vulnerabilities does  private law highlight in those it governs? To what extent does private law confer overlooked capacities on troublesome actors, which can generate new strategies of resistance?

Kenneth VeitchWelfare and the Politics of Contract

This paper offers some reflections on the role of contract in the field of contemporary social policy. While many of the contracts in this area do not fit squarely within the private law of contract, I will suggest that they nevertheless present an interesting case study for an exploration of some of the themes of this project. This is because these contracts force us to consider the nature of the relationship between the public and the private in a domain – welfare – traditionally defined, at least in the UK, by its public characteristics. To provide some focus for this analysis, two examples of the deployment of contract within social policy – the workfare contract designed to manage unemployment and the use of the private sector to provide public services – will be used to frame the discussion.


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