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‘It’s like Weber’s “iron cage”’: Irish social workers’ experience of the Habitual Residence Condition (HRC)

Abstract:
Since 2004, the Habitual Residence Condition (HRC) has restricted access to the welfare state and ‘safety net’ social protection for those who cannot prove their ‘connection’ to the Republic of Ireland. For many, this has resulted in poverty and social exclusion. Informed by Badiou’s promulgation of ‘one world’ politics, the article focuses on social workers’ experiences of the HRC in two cities. A preliminary study, with a small group of practitioners, highlights the way they are responding to the HRC. Common themes relate to: inequality of access to the welfare ‘safety net’; ambivalent social work attitudes towards the HRC; the role of practitioners in opposing the HRC; the personal cost of challenging the inflexible operation of the HRC; and bureaucracy and the HRC. Located in an ambivalent position, on account of the demands of both the state and more progressive aspects of the profession’s value base, social workers are resisting the HRC but not on a collective basis.

Abstract:

Since 2004, the Habitual Residence Condition (HRC) has restricted access to the welfare state and ‘safety net’ social protection for those who cannot prove their ‘connection’ to the Republic of Ireland. For many, this has resulted in poverty and social exclusion. Informed by Badiou’s promulgation of ‘one world’ politics, the article focuses on social workers’ experiences of the HRC in two cities. A preliminary study, with a small group of practitioners, highlights the way they are responding to the HRC. Common themes relate to: inequality of access to the welfare ‘safety net’; ambivalent social work attitudes towards the HRC; the role of practitioners in opposing the HRC; the personal cost of challenging the inflexible operation of the HRC; and bureaucracy and the HRC. Located in an ambivalent position, on account of the demands of both the state and more progressive aspects of the profession’s value base, social workers are resisting the HRC but not on a collective basis.

Source: Critical and Radical Social Work, first published online 27 January 2015. 

Author: Ashley Harmon and Paul Michael Garrett
Publisher: Polity Press
Date of Publication: 27 January 2015
URL/Identifier: http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/tpp/crsw/pre-prints/content-PP_CRSW-D-14-00017R1

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