Abstract:

This paper examines the impact of a social experiment from the 1970s called the Manitoba Basic Annual Income Experiment (Mincome). I examine Mincome’s “saturation” site located in Dauphin, Manitoba, where all town residents were eligible for guaranteed annual income payments for three years. Drawing on archived qualitative participant accounts I show that the design and framing of Mincome led participants to view payments through a pragmatic lens, rather than the moralistic lens through which welfare is viewed. Consistent with prior theory, this paper finds that Mincome participation did not produce social stigma. More broadly, this paper bears on the feasibility of alternative forms of socioeconomic organization through a consideration of the moral aspects of economic policy. The social meaning of Mincome was sufficiently powerful that even participants with particularly negative attitudes toward government assistance felt able to collect Mincome payments without a sense of contradiction. By obscuring the distinctions between the “deserving” and “undeserving” poor, universalistic income maintenance programs may weaken social stigmatization and strengthen program sustainability.

David Calnitsky, “‘More Normal than Welfare’: The Mincome Experiment, Stigma, and Community Experience,” Canadian Review of Sociology 53, no. 1, pages 26–71, February 2016

About Karl Widerquist

Karl Widerquist has written 983 articles.

Karl Widerquist is a Professor of political philosophy at Georgetown University-Qatar. He specializes in distributive justice—the ethics of who has what. Much of his work involves Universal Basic Income (UBI). He is a co-founder of the U.S. Basic Income Guarantee Network (USBIG). He served as co-chair of the Basic Income Earth Network (BIEN) for 7 years, and a member of the BIEN EC for 14 years. He was the Editor of the USBIG NewsFlash for 15 years and of the BIEN NewsFlash for 4 years. He is a cofounder of BIEN’s news website, Basic Income News. He is a cofounder of the journal "Basic Income Studies." Widerquist has published several books and many articles on UBI both in academic journals and in the popular media. He has appeared on or been quoted by many major media outlets, such as NPR’s On Point, NPR’s Marketplace, PRI’s the World, CNBC, Al-Jazeera, 538, Vice, Dissent, the New York Times, Forbes, the Financial Times, and the Atlantic Monthly, which called him “a leader of the worldwide basic income movement.” Most of Karl Widerquist's academic writing is available at his research website (Widerquist.com). For more information about him, see his BIEN profile (https://basicincome.org/news/2016/12/bien-profiles-karl-widerquist-co-chair/).