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Buying and Selling the Poor : Inside Australia's privatised welfare-to-work market - Siobhan O'Sullivan

Buying and Selling the Poor

Inside Australia's privatised welfare-to-work market

By: Siobhan O'Sullivan, Michael McGann, Mark Considine

Paperback | 1 December 2021

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Buying and Selling the Poor ventures behind the scenes of the multibillion-dollar welfare-to-work system, offering new insights into how Australia responds to unemployment and disadvantage. As the authors tell the story of four local employment offices, they paint a vivid picture of a critically important social service which many people are aware of but which few properly understand. They also reveal the wider impacts that processes of marketisation and welfare reform have had on these frontline services over decades, and how the work of frontline staff and service providers has been transformed.

Buying and Selling the Poor looks closely at how these services operate, why some succeed where others fail, and what can be learned from the stories of local staff and clients who have navigated the system. Three decades into this market experiment, how well are we doing in supporting our most vulnerable citizens to get back to work?

About the Authors

Siobhan O'Sullivan is a public policy scholar based at UNSW in Sydney. She has studied welfare-to-work in Australia, the UK and elsewhere, over many years.

Michael McGann is Research Fellow in the Social Sciences Institute at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. He specialises in the sociology of unemployment and the governance of activation, with a particular focus on the marketisation of public employment services.

Mark Considine is Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor of Political Science in the School of Social and Political Studies, University of Melbourne.
Industry Reviews
'Buying and Selling the Poor takes a rigorous but accessible look inside the ‘black box’ of our privatised jobseeker market, and at the commodification of the people within it. The authors, academics in the fields of politics, public policy and social science, combine their 20 years of survey data with immersive fieldwork...This revealing, often heart-wrenching work will prove enlightening for not only those within the policy field, but also anyone with an interest in or experience dealing with a system that often feels like a race to the bottom.'
Kim Thomson Books+Publishing

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