Writing out your whole life to a stranger: the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) application form as a technology of power

As part of the School Research Seminar Series, Postgraduate Researcher Rebecca Porter will present on the Personal Independence Payment form as a tool of the state.


This paper is a summary of one of the working analysis chapters in Rebecca’s thesis, and will demonstrate how the PIP2 ‘how your disability affects you’ form acts as a technology of power: a tool of the state to decide how to categorise its population. 
The paper will utilise key elements from necropolitics, with reference to how biopolitics influenced the later theory (Mbembe, 2003; 2019) as well as quotations from some of the 14 participants who Rebecca interviewed.

Necropolitics has expanded beyond its original intended social group, to cover various other oppressed groups, such as women (Wright, 2011) UK asylum seekers (Mayblin et al, 2020) and disabled people in the Covid 19 pandemic (Grunnawalt, 2021), and this research aims to further expand the theory’s reach. 

Finally, with the theoretical framework in mind, the political context and rhetoric of which PIP was formulated will be explained, with reference to the UK’s political landscape and governance in austere times.

Profile photograph of Rebecca Porter, wearing a colourful yellow-black top, black jacket and black-framed glasses. She is smiling at the camera and is seated in front of an indoor light-brick wall and teal upholstery.Speaker Bio

Rebecca Porter is a 6th year part-time PhD student supervised by Dr Tom Campbell and Dr Ana Manzano (at the time of writing). Her research motivations for Personal Independence Payment (PIP) stem from her own lived experiences of being a disabled welfare claimant, and the systematic dehumanisation of disabled people, through the welfare application process.

Hybrid event details

This event will be held in-person in Room 12.21/12.25 in the Social Sciences Building on campus at the University of Leeds.

To attend this hybrid event online instead, please join the following Microsoft Teams* link on the day:

Online attendance link: "Writing out your whole life to a stranger"  
Meeting ID: 318 679 779 872
Passcode: av87uo  

*Need help with Microsoft Teams?