Foodbanks and other forms of charitable welfare provision are fast becoming an established feature of the UK social security system. Drawing on over two years of ethnographic observation in a Trussell Trust foodbank in North East England, this paper explores the relationship between the construction of the ‘active citizen’ and lived experiences of foodbank users and volunteers. Findings show how participants’ experiences and behaviour challenges popular political and policy narratives that individuals are using foodbanks because of poor lifestyle choices. The internalisation or rejection of this narrative is then examined, contrasting the different forms of citizenship that arise. Through the significant work that goes into living on a low income, people both aligned with and challenged the ideas underpinning ‘active citizenship’.
- ‘Big Society’
- ‘active citizen’