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.
Department of Social Sciences
Year of publication: 2023Date of RADAR deposit: 2023-01-05