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LEEDS, UNITED KINGDOM: “Finding Solidarity Within Precarity–Lessons from the US Welfare Rights Movement Regarding the Role of Universal Basic Income,” presentation IIPPEE Sixth Annual Conference, 9-11 September 2015

The IIPPE’s upcoming Annual Conference at the UK’s Leeds University features an in-depth basic income presentation by longstanding anti-poverty activist professor Ann Withorn. For more information and registration please visit the International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy website.

The abstract of Withorn’s conference contribution, which will take place at 11AM on 9 September, followed by additional conference details can be found below.


Finding Solidarity Within Precarity–Lessons from the US Welfare Rights Movement Regarding the Role of Universal Basic Income

This presentation will open discussion around three interconnecting questions:

  • What does it mean to consider our current global economy as increasingly defined by “precarity” and to accept the “Precariat” as the “new dangerous class”? (Guy Standing, 2011, 2014)
  • What do the experiences of people within the US Welfare Rights Movement teach us about theories and strategies for addressing a range of problems associated with economic insecurity? (Willie Baptist and Jan Rehmann, 2011)
  • How does the current movement for a Universal Basic Income Guarantee have the potential to build solidarity and counter the economic and affective consequences of precarity?


Ann Withorn (right) with Diane Dujon, Boston Ethical Community

Ann Withorn (right) with Diane Dujon

This presentation grows out of my 40+ years of anti-poverty activism and writing — as well as from my recent work to achieve a Universal Basic Income in Massachusetts and the US. The basic premise is that precarity is growing across many sectors of society in the US and the world — far beyond those who have been traditionally labeled poor or especially “vulnerable to poverty”. I presume that, by acknowledging our shared precarity, people today may be more able to demand recognition as legitimate members of society who are equally deserving of society’s common resources.

I will present examples of how women and men in the Welfare Rights struggles from 1966 though 2015 have claimed their rights to economic assistance and full social acceptance while struggling with their highly stigmatized status as members of the “lumpen precariat”. I will explain in some detail how my contacts with local activists both showed me the deep scariness generated for individuals, families and cultures by precarity, and offered a concrete way people within the Precariat can fight these fears: by seeking solidarity through a Basic Income for all. My goal is not only to deepen our shared knowledge but to engender a commitment to action grounded in such knowledge.




IIPPE Conference 2015, Rethinking Economics: Pluralism, Interdisciplinarity and Activism, University of Leeds, UK, September 9-11, 2014. Conference registration: For more information on Ann Withorn’s presentation at the conference, contact her at

About Will Wachtmeister

Will Wachtmeister has written 32 articles.

Will is a journalist, writer and translator based in Malmö, Sweden.

The views expressed in this Op-Ed piece are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of Basic Income News or BIEN. BIEN and Basic Income News do not endorse any particular policy, but Basic Income News welcomes discussion from all points of view in its Op-Ed section.

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