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“Individual responsibility” sounds positive, so why is it problematic? Many scholars have noted that individual responsibility has been unevenly distributed in policy, surfacing in paternalistic ways in those policies that impact poor communities and communities of color far more than in those serving the middle and upper class. Drawing from early English law and early American Protestant Work Ethic, neoliberal approaches to work views lapses in individual responsibility as moral failings, often punishable through sanctions and other punitive measures.
Using discourse analysis and stance analysis, this presentation by Professor Maureen Matarese explores how individual responsibility surfaces in the social interactions in two contexts: between social workers and their clients in an urban homeless shelter and between faculty and students in an urban community college.
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