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Basic Income and a New Universalism

Jenni Mays, John Tomlinson, Christine Morley, Phillip Ablet, Simon Duffy, Jim Elder-Woodward, Keith Rankin, James P. Mulvale, Malcolm Torry, Bronwyn Stevens, Richard Hil, Graham Maddox, Melissa Schnyder, Jennifer McDonell, David Adès, Alice White, Sanam Sharma, Rory Harris, Ugo Rotellini, Mags Webster, Jenny Blackford, Lesley Synge

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The global dominance of austerity measures and neoliberal policies in Western developed countries has given rise to a free-market society that is antithetical to the welfare state and democratic ideas concerning egalitarian forms of distribution. Widening poverty gaps and unprecedented levels of income and wealth inequality (Piketty 2014), together with disruptive structural changes (automation in the gig economy and structural adjustment of labour markets resulting in greater casualisation of work) have produced greater levels of economic, social and political insecurity (Bruun and Duka 2018; Standing 2014). In response to these pressing challenges, there has been an increase in political debate on the potential for universal Basic Income (BI) to redress poverty, structural inequality and inequity in distribution. The current climate represents a pivotal point in time for progressing the design and implementation of a universal alternative to neoliberalism in the form of a BI and contributing to a new universalism for the social (welfare) state and broader society. This special issue responds to these timely debates on the potential for BI to present a new universalism. This article provides an initial scoping of BI as a backdrop to the articles that follow.


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