criminalization, Ireland, post-crisis, welfare fraud, workfare
The Irish social protection system has taken an increasingly workfarist turn in the post-crisis era. Concurrently, ‘welfare fraud’ emerged as a contentious political issue, leading some commentators to argue certain groups of welfare claimants have been cast as ‘scapegoats’ for widely experienced financial hardship. This paper brings these two points of inquiry together for the first time by critically engaging with two antifraud strategy policy documents, from 2011 and 2014 respectively, using a Foucauldian inspired policy analysis methodology called ‘What’s the Problem represented to be?’. We find the practices outlined in these documents predominantly problematize fraud as an act carried out by entrepreneurial ‘rational actors’ – silencing alternative problematizations of abuse and error. Furthermore, welfare claimants are constituted as subjects under constant surveillance, reinforcing the workfarist turn, but also potentially serving to undermine the legitimacy of the welfare system in the eyes of both claimants and wider society.