Journal Article

Critical theory and universal basic income


The COVID-19 pandemic has intensified interest in alternatives to neoliberalism. One proposal that has been increasingly discussed by both academics and activists is the implementation of a Universal Basic Income (UBI). This would typically see all citizens awarded a regular cash payment, without conditionality attached. While UBI thus deserves considerable attention from sociologists, as yet critical theorists have not offered an extended engagement with the proposal. In this paper, I provide exactly such a critical theoretical perspective on UBI, subjecting the approach to an extended critique. When viewed through the perspective of critical theory, UBI emerges as a more problematic approach to social change, failing to offer what its most enthusiastic progressive proponents promise: ‘a capitalist road to communism’. Rather, in this article, I argue that, when viewed through the lens of critical theory, UBI appears likely to further entrench, rather than disturb, the neoliberal social formation.

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Harris, Neal

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Social Sciences


Year of publication: 2023
Date of RADAR deposit: 2023-01-05

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

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