Social justice is the best therapy : exploring lived-experiences of welfare reform in the United Kingdom

Thompson, Charlotte and Greasley, Pete and Higson, Hayley (2020) Social justice is the best therapy : exploring lived-experiences of welfare reform in the United Kingdom. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

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This thesis consists of a literature review, a research paper and a critical appraisal. The focus of this thesis is to understand the impact of welfare reform and austerity on individuals, with particular focus on mental wellbeing. In attempt to explore the impact of stigma on individuals who claim benefits a qualitative metasynthesis of 18 papers was completed. Findings demonstrated that individuals experienced multiple levels of benefit stigma, that stigma had social and emotional impact, individuals adopted various strategies to manage their stigmatised identity and that benefits stigma created an atmosphere of distrust and suspicion within communities. The research paper specifically explored the impact of applying for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) on mental wellbeing. PIP is a form of disability benefit introduced under the Welfare Reform Act. Thematic analysis of qualitative data yielded from 16 interviews led to the development of six related themes: 1) PIP is ‘gruelling’ throughout: designed to frustrate?; 2) ‘Treated like a criminal’ - a dehumanising, criminalising process; 3) ‘It’s life threatening for some people’ - impact of PIP on mental health; 4) ‘It feels like they’re trying to cull the weak’- lacking a sense of belonging and worth in society; 5) ‘They need to make improvements’ –how PIP could be improved. These findings captured the distressing nature of the PIP process. Finally, the critical appraisal provides a reflective stance on a central issue underlying many of the recommendations made within the literature review and empirical paper- the role of Clinical Psychology in politics and social justice. It is argued that psychological thinking can offer unique insight into some of the most pressing issues society faces. Therefore we have a responsibility to contribute our research findings and our theoretical understandings to public, social and political debates.

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Thesis (PhD)
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24 Feb 2020 17:20
Last Modified:
28 Nov 2023 10:53