A basic income for every crisis? Building blocks of a political economy framework

Joe Chrisp, Jurgen De Wispelaere

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In the wake of several recent crises, universal basic income has emerged as a serious policy solution. Not only is basic income pitched as a tool to mitigate the effects of a diverse set of emergencies, it has been argued that successive crises have importantly contributed to the surge in media and policy interest in basic income. In this article we critically examine this proposition. We first argue against the inherent functionalism of many accounts and instead propose a political economy framework that ties basic income directly to a series of mechanisms that may explain the opening up of basic income policy windows during recent crises, including the Covid-19 pandemic. It is equally important to carefully distinguish between different types of crises and we argue that two key competing types – cyclical and permanent crises – face a distinctive set of political economy constraints. We illustrate our approach by analysing the prospects of basic income in six distinct crisis events.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Sociology
Early online date21 Jun 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

The author(s) received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article


  • basic income
  • crisis
  • emergency
  • policy window
  • political economy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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