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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Questioning the Vulnerability Zeitgeist Seminar

10 December 2014
Room 4003, Building 4 Chair-Dr Andy Power

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Dr Nathaniel O'Grady at N.O' .

Event details


Vulnerability’ now plays a significant role in contemporary systems of governance and in the social construction of social problems. The notion is drawn upon heavily in practices related to individuals or groups who might be disadvantaged or ‘in need’, reframing welfare debates and policies in subtle ways that have important implications for configurations of ‘deservingness’ and citizenship. Yet despite its ubiquity, vulnerability has received surprisingly little academic attention, most often fading into the shadow of its conceptual cousin ‘risk’. This paper will report from research which has explored the implications of vulnerability discourses in contemporary society. How the concept appears in the social sciences literature and in UK social policy will be considered, alongside findings from empirical qualitative research into how the concept was operationalised in interventions with ‘vulnerable’ young people. Drawing on ideas about social control and also on young people's lived experiences of vulnerability, questions will be raised about how far vulnerability discourses serve the interests of those who are seen as vulnerable

Speaker information

Dr Kate Brown, University of York. Department of Social Policy and Social Work

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