On care, welfare conditionality and free riding

(ASSA Paul Bourke Lecture)

Care is essential to all life – we need it, we feel it, we desire it and none of us can live without it. It underpins so many practices in our lives – from reproductive work, to caring for children and the elderly, the community and ecology. This essential but mostly unpaid work is also something that the economy is dependent on, and it is mostly carried out by women. In this paper, Klein examines this “freeriding” (termed by Nancy Fraser) and its relationship with the ongoing stigmatisation of single mothers not in the labour force. Drawing on empirical research into contemporary welfare conditionality programs, Klein argues that welfare conditionality not only further stigmatises women, but can reinforce the expropriation of women’s labour. In drawing attention to the links between gender, welfare conditionality and capitalism’s dependency on care, Klein asks, what other ways can we imagine social security that values care and those that do the work?


This lecture was given in receipt of the Academy of Social Sciences Paul Bourke Award for Early Career Research held via Zoom on 8 September 2020 as part of Social Sciences Week.

Postdevelopment in Practice (Institute of Postcolonial Studies)

Postdevelopment in practice critically engages with recent trends in postdevelopment and critical development studies that have destabilised the concept of development, challenging its assumptions and exposing areas where it has failed in its objectives, whilst also pushing beyond theory to uncover alternatives in practice. This book reflects a rich and diverse range of experience in postdevelopment work, bringing together emerging and established contributors from across Latin America, South Asia, Europe, Australia and elsewhere, and it brings to light the multiple and innovative examples of postdevelopment practice already underway. The complexity of postdevelopment alternatives are revealed throughout the chapters, encompassing research on economy and care, art and design, pluriversality and buen vivir, the state and social movements, among others. Drawing on feminisms and political economy, postcolonial theory and critical design studies, the ‘diverse economies’ and ‘world of the third’ approaches and discussions on ontology and interdisciplinary fields such as science and technology studies, the chapters reveal how the practice of postdevelopment is already being carried out by actors in and out of development.


The panel includes Elise Klein (Uni. Melbourne), Katharine McKinnon (La Trobe Uni.), Carlos Eduardo Morreo (ANU) as they discuss alternatives to development and how postdevelopment is already being done. This talk was held in the Ashis Nandy Room at the Institute of Postcolonial Studies, North Melbourne on 17 October 2019, and was filmed and edited by Felix Morreo Zissermann. 

Bottom Dollar: Welfare Quarantining in Remote Australia (Wheeler Centre)

Bottom Dollar Welfare Quarantining in Re

In this discussion, Jessie Taylor, Jackie Huggins, Elise Klein and Beverley Walley explore the Cashless Debit Card. They cover issues such as the implications for First Nations people, how the evidence does not support the extension of the programme, and how in choosing the locations for the scheme to be rolled out, remoteness a proxy for race?


This discussion was held at the Wheeler Centre - https://www.wheelercentre.com/broadcasts/bottom-dollar-welfare-quarantining-in-remote-australia.

Basic Income in Australia (OpenDemocracy)

Questioning Punitive Approaches in Social Policy

How much should policy-makers be attempting to influence our decision-making? Do we need to be nudged into desirable behaviours, and punished when we step out of line? Individual behaviours are fast becoming key sites in Australian policy making to tackle everything from inequality to poverty, unemployment to drug addiction.


This is evident in diverse arenas, from the Cashless Debit Card to nudge policy making. Featuring a diverse expert panel: Dr Elise Klein, the University of Melbourne, Bev Walley, East Kimberley resident and activist, Professor Greg Marston, the University of Queensland, and Professor Louise Humpage, the University of Auckland. Filmed 1 February, 2018, Deakin Downtown.