Purpose – The aim of this study is to examine how the use of indirect government control mechanisms is used as a means of holding government agencies such as job network providers and recipients of social security benefits accountable. The mechanisms of indirect government will be examined using Michel Foucault's discourses on disciplinary power, surveillance and normalisation.
Design/methodology/approach – The mechanisms of indirect government are investigated through a survey questionnaire and focus group interviews. The questionnaire is assessed and analysed using descriptive statistics and principal component analysis with varimax rotation.
Findings – It is found that the rationing and disciplinary mechanisms of the breaching regime, through a process of disciplinary power, surveillance and normalisation, combine to help hold government agencies and recipients of social security benefits accountable, which in turn helps control the level of social security expenditure.
Originality/value – The current study extends our understanding of the functions of indirect government by providing an applied example of how the process of government works indirectly through government agencies and the abundant rules and regulations that underpin such bureaucracies.
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