Targeted! Population segmentation, electronic surveillance and governing the unemployed in Australia

Paul Henman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


Targeting is increasingly used to manage people. It operates by segmenting populations and providing different levels of opportunities and services to these groups. Each group is subject to different levels of surveillance and scrutiny. This article examines the deployment of targeting in Australian social security. Three case studies of targeting are presented in Australia's management of benefit over-payment and fraud, the distribution of employment services and the application of workfare. In conceptualizing surveillance as governance, the analysis examines the rationalities, technologies and practices that make targeting thinkable, practicable and achievable. In the case studies, targeting is variously conceptualized and justified by calculative risk discourses, moral discourses of obligation and notions of welfare dependency. Advanced information technologies are also seen as particularly important in giving rise to the capacity to think about and act on population segments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-191
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Sociology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • Governmentality
  • Mutual obligation
  • Risk
  • Surveillance
  • Targeting


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