Gender, Work and Social Control: a century of disability benefits

This is the research blog about a book published in 2019,  ‘Gender, Work and Social Control: a century of disability benefits’ .

Cover of book 'Gender, Work and Social Control A Century of Disability Benefits'' by Jackie Gulland, published by Palgrave socio-legal studies. Cover is dark green and shows a black and white picture of an older woman on her knees scrubbing a floor

People claiming disability benefits today must undergo medical tests to assess whether or not they are capable of work. Media reports and high profile campaigns highlight the problems with this system, questioning whether the process is fair. These debates are not new and this books looks at similar questions about how to assess people’s capacity for work from the beginning of the welfare state in the early 20th century. The book uses previously unknown archive materials to explore the meaning of the term ‘incapable of work’ over a hundred years. The book explores women’s roles in the domestic sphere and how these were used to consider their capacity for work in the labour market. The book concludes that incapacity benefit decision making is really about work: what work is, what it is not, who should do it, who should be compensated when work does not provide a sufficient income and who should be exempted from any requirement to look for it.

For a taster of some of the content and some of the development of the ideas in this book, have a look at previous blog posts on this site.

You can order a copy of the book from the publisher at this link .Your library service may also be able to find a copy for you.

The author is Dr Jackie Gulland, who is based in social work in the School of Social and Political Science at the University of Edinburgh. The research was funded through a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship.

Jackie Gulland is a Senior Lecturer in Social Work at the University of Edinburgh, UK. Her work is inter-disciplinary and crosses the fields of social policy, sociology, social work, history and law.  A former welfare rights and disability adviser, her research concerns how people negotiate their rights within the welfare state.