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Policing WelfarePunitive Adversarialism in Public Assistance$
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Spencer Headworth

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9780226779225

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226779539.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 28 June 2022

Finding Welfare Rule Violators

Finding Welfare Rule Violators

(p.207) Chapter Eight Finding Welfare Rule Violators
Policing Welfare

Spencer Headworth

University of Chicago Press

Chapter Eight shows how working knowledge about fraud and its perpetrators underlies discretionary enforcement action, and thus shapes the realization of fraud control as a government intervention. In the informal criminology of welfare fraud that fraud workers apply to the client population, justifications of punishment foreground the ideas of deterrence and incapacitation; that is, attempting to prevent fraud through changing the climate of program participation and removing clients determined to have deliberately broken rules. Investigators look to catch people who fit their preexisting images of what and whom they are seeking when they seek welfare fraud. In the aggregate, these thought patterns—along with tendencies to prioritize cases involving people with greater informational visibility and perceived patterns of fraud perpetration—hold significant implications for reproducing longstanding structures of social stratification.

Keywords:   welfare, fraud, race, gender, legibility, visibility, inequality, stratification, criminology, discretion

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