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Dignity and social security have been closely associated since at least the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, but there is a lack of clarity around what dignity means in this context. This article explores how two key stakeholders—out-of-work benefit recipients and policymakers—understand dignity in the context of social security, drawing on qualitative research with each group. The evidence presented notes a relative absence of direct references to dignity among policymakers, although related issues are nonetheless discussed, whereas benefit recipients commonly articulate experiences of undignified treatment and the negative impact this has on their lives. This article's exploration of dignity is of particular relevance to Scotland, where recent framework legislation includes the principle that their security system should be underpinned by “respect for the dignity of individuals.” The authors propose that a social security system that protects dignity must take account of distributional, relational, and intrinsic aspects of dignity—providing sufficient income, treating users with respect, and avoiding interventions or discourses that are disrespectful and dehumanizing. Further, the authors question whether it is possible for dignity to enjoy meaningful protection within highly disciplinary conditional welfare regimes.
|Number of pages||16|
|Journal||Social Policy and Administration|
|Early online date||13 Aug 2019|
|Publication status||Published (in print/issue) - 13 Aug 2019|
- social security
- Welfare state
FingerprintDive into the research topics of 'Conceptualising dignity in the context of social security: bottom-up and top-down perspectives'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
Independent review of Discretionary Support scheme (Northern Ireland) (External organisation)
Mark Simpson (Member), Ciara Fitzpatrick (Member) & Grainne Mc Keever (Chair)6 Sept 2021 → 15 Oct 2021
Activity: Membership › Membership of committeeFile
Social citizenship in the Cameron years: a cold climate for claimants, rich terrain for researchers
Mark Simpson (Speaker) & Ruth Patrick (Speaker)5 Apr 2017 → 7 Apr 2017
Activity: Talk or presentation › Oral presentationFile
Building dignity into the social security system
Mark Simpson (Speaker)10 Jun 2016
Activity: Talk or presentation › Invited talkFile
Social Citizenship in an Age of Welfare Regionalism: The State of the Social UnionSimpson, M., 30 Jun 2022, Oxford: Hart Publishing. 272 p.
Research output: Book/Report › Book › peer-review
From principles to practice: social security in the Scottish laboratory of democracySimpson, M., McKeever, G. & Gray, A., 12 Mar 2019, In: Journal of Social Security Law. 26, 1, p. 13-31 19 p.
Research output: Contribution to journal › Article › peer-reviewOpen AccessFile
Social security systems based on dignity and respectSimpson, M., McKeever, G. & Gray, A. M., 7 Aug 2017, Equality and Human Rights Commission. 110 p.
Research output: Book/Report › Commissioned report › peer-reviewOpen AccessFile