“Welfare ghettos” and the “broken society”: territorial stigmatisation in the contemporary UK

Hancock, Lynn and Mooney, Gerry (2012). “Welfare ghettos” and the “broken society”: territorial stigmatisation in the contemporary UK. Housing, Theory and Society, 30(1) pp. 46–64.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14036096.2012.683294


The idea of a ‘broken society’ is advanced by Conservative politicians in the UK as emblematic of social and moral decay. With many echoes of long-standing claims of societal and moral breakdown, the narrative centres on ‘irresponsibility’ and ‘disorderly’ behaviours in disadvantaged working class communities and asserts that welfare dependency is the underlying condition which produces ‘social breakdown’. Social housing estates and the populations therein, in particular, are represented as problematic and vulnerable on a number of different levels, especially in the frequently interlinked notion of ‘welfare ghetto’. In this paper we adopt an interdisciplinary approach, utilising Loïc Wacquant’s recent work on ‘territorial stigmatisation’ and his thesis on the ‘ghetto’, to critique these narratives; and we explore the work these notions perform to legitimise increasingly pervasive state interventions to regulate and control working class lives and communities. The classed assumptions underpinning these discourses are revealed in this context.

Viewing alternatives


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions
No digital document available to download for this item

Item Actions