Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Neoliberalism and accounting in everyday relational practices : the effects of the UK tax credits system on the financial hardship of claimants
Author: Closs-Davies, Sara
ISNI:       0000 0004 7967 7136
Awarding Body: Bangor University
Current Institution: Bangor University
Date of Award: 2019
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
The UK tax credits (TC) system is designed to encourage low-income individuals and families with children to work, alleviate their financial hardship and improve socio-economic equality. This study shows, in practice, its accounting mechanisms prove ill-equipped to engage with the 'lived reality' of TC workers and claimants rendering it dysfunctional in achieving its aims. I conduct a critical interpretive analysis of accounting mechanisms and everyday practices within the TC system by combining several theoretical and methodological approaches. First, I draw on accounting literature (Miller and Rose, 2008), social theory (Foucault, 1979; Bourdieu, 1984; Latour, 1987; Cottingham, 2016) and street-level bureaucracy theories from public administration literature (Lipsky, 1980; Bovens & Zouridis, 2002) to understand the role and implications of accounting as a technology of governance that act through a social-network across multiple socio-political contexts. Second, I use ethnographic and grounded theory methods to explore real-life experiences and encounters between TC claimants and HMRC TC workers. My findings suggest the TC system operates through accounting mechanisms and everyday practices grounded in neoliberal discourse, which perversely create overpayments and significant financial and existential hardship for claimants. I argue accounting mechanisms reshape the everyday practices and roles of TC workers which drastically impact on the lives of claimants. I further argue the TC system functions as a neoliberal system of governance which facilitate and aligns the minds and bodies of claimants according to neoliberal discourse, reinforcing political stigmatisation of claimants and socio-economic inequality. My study appeals to policy-makers and politicians to foster relational, holistic and humane approaches to the administration of TC and welfare policies. This would help deliver public services that foster deep relationships between public services front line workers and citizens to enable them to engage and tackle complex issues, improving their experiences, whilst also making public service more effective at alleviating poverty and improving social inequality.
Supervisor: Merkl-Davies, Doris Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: tax credits ; critical accounting ; accounting technologies ; neoliberal discourse ; critical interpretive analysis ; ethnography ; relational power ; public services