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The Impact of Welfare Conditionality on Experiences of Job Quality

Jones, Katy; Wright, Sharon; Scullion, Lisa

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Katy Jones

Sharon Wright


This article contributes to emerging debates about how behavioural conditionality within welfare systems influences job quality. Drawing upon analysis of unique data from three waves of qualitative longitudinal interviews with 46 UK social security recipients (133 interviews), we establish that the impact of welfare conditionality is so substantial that it is no longer adequate to discuss job quality without reference to its interconnections to the welfare system. More specifically, we identify how conditionality drives welfare recipients’ experience of four core dimensions of job quality: disempowering and propelling claimants towards inadequate pay, insecurity and poor employment terms, undermining multiple intrinsic characteristics of work and creating what we term a new ‘Work–Life–Welfare balance’. Instead of acting as a neutral arbitrator between jobseekers and employers, the welfare system is exposed as complicit in reinforcing one-sided flexibility through one-sided conditionality, by emphasising intensive job-seeking, while leaving poor-quality work provided by employers unchecked.


Jones, K., Wright, S., & Scullion, L. (in press). The Impact of Welfare Conditionality on Experiences of Job Quality. Work, Employment and Society,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 13, 2023
Online Publication Date Jan 12, 2024
Deposit Date Nov 20, 2023
Publicly Available Date Jan 12, 2024
Journal Work, Employment and Society
Print ISSN 0950-0170
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management, Economics and Econometrics, Sociology and Political Science, Accounting


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