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Abstract

Foucault and Giddins emphasise the power of the modern "Administrative State", arguing that we now have at our disposal an enormous bureaucratic machinery for processing and controlling various problematical human behaviours. Australian data on fraud of the social welfare system are examined to throw light on Foucault's and Giddens' views. Figures relating to prosecution for fraud of both the Unemployment and Supporting Parents Benefits system in the last six years throw some doubt on the concept of a vastly powerful "Administrative State apparatus.'" Certainly a massive state bureaucracy has been established to apprehend cheats, yet the data show consistently that prosecution for welfare fraud is running at a low level despite the diligent efforts of a virtual army of fraud inspectors. If 'pacification' or 'disciplining' of the underclasses actually is occurring, it probably is not happening-at least, not at the levels implied by Foucault and Giddens-through the social welfare arm of the modern Administrative State.

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