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Abstract from

Risk, Human Services and Contractualism: Managing the Social Insecurities of Poverty Risks

Michael Wearing

Wearing is concerned with new modes of risk governance in contracted human services. The role of the state in orchestrating contractualism for poor people is partly understood as the privatisation of poverty risks that involves the state's shedding of organised responsibility for poverty and the increased responsibility of non-state providers. The increased role of non-state agencies in implementing stringent conditions, notably church-based and for-profit providers, is a controversial development in the ethics, equity, effectiveness and economy of service delivery. Further, the management of poverty risks by state and non-state organisations indicates the insecurities and dangers they face in dealing with national agendas of mass poverty and unemployment. These manufactured insecurities create problems of political legitimacy and undermine strategic inter-organisational trust and partnership in policy development. In short, such a high degree of social insecurity makes poverty alleviation for non-state and state actors alike a risky business. Examples are used of contracted services in social policy areas such as child and family, disability and employment services to highlight the insecure and risk filled activities for funders and providers involved in poverty management.

(2001) 18(2) Law in Context 129
Keywords: Human Services; Managerialism

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