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Institutional processes and the production of gender inequalities: the case of Australian child support research and administration
journal contributionposted on 2015-11-01, 00:00 authored by K Cook, Hayley MckenzieHayley Mckenzie, K Natalier, L Young
This article analyses the administrative and research capture of child support data as a case study of how institutional data collection processes are performative in perpetuating gendered inequalities. We compare interviews with 19 low-income single mothers and their longitudinal survey responses from the same research to reveal how low-income women strategically or inadvertently ‘smoothed’ their experiences when responding to data collection processes. This directly resulted in material and symbolic costs in the form of reduced welfare benefits and limited evidence with which to lobby for policy reform. These processes in turn provided benefits to fathers and the state in the form of reduced child support liabilities and enforcement action, and welfare outlays, respectively. We conclude that current administrative and research data collection practices provide a limited and gendered evidence base for administrative justice and policy reform.