…to hate the phrase 'most vulnerable in society' and wish it would stop being used

(46 Posts)
williaminajetfighter Sun 20-Mar-16 09:56:49

I started to notice the phrase 'the most vulnerable in society' becoming much more commonplace 5 years ago and quickly adopted by politicians and incorporated into their political rhetoric. It has become a useful catchall to represent the disadvantaged and is now regularly used in favour of 'the poor' or 'the disadvantaged' or any reference to class. It was used multiple times in George Osborne's budget speech!

The thing is just HATE the phrase. Firstly because it's totally non-specific --- who are these 'most vulnerable' we speak of? One day it's the disabled, then it's mothers, then it's the poor, then its the unemployed. Fine to change the group each time, but it's become a completely meaningless phrase to represent anyone who might need govt support or who might be politically disadvantaged - and the fact is that could be anyone at anytime. And it's a way for politicians to look like they care about 'the less fortunate in society' without actually having to name who they are!

Secondly the phrase is far too emotive (like 'needy') and also paints a picture of the 'most vulnerable' as meek and powerless. For example, a disabled person may be politically disadvantaged and need more assistance but I'm not sure if they want to be painted as 'vulnerable' and 'needy' especially if they work hard to overcome their disabilities.

Please note I'm not stating that I hate those classified as 'the most vulnerable' so don't flame me on this. This is about a stupid phrase that has become far too commonplace that we need to interrogate and ultimately stop using!

Fairenuff Sun 20-Mar-16 09:59:38

I think it's a good phrase. It doesn't exclude anyone, it just refers to those who are most at risk and need more help and protection. In other words, the most vulnerable.

daffodilsoverthebridge Sun 20-Mar-16 10:04:19

No, I agree with you OP and it's also meaningless because as you say it doesn't relate to a particular group.

I'd have no issue with 'disabled children, who are extremely vulnerable and need resources put into their care' but as you say it's just flung around!

MrsJayy Sun 20-Mar-16 10:06:08

What Fairenuff said although it is a buzz phrase it covers a lot of people

WoodliceCollection Sun 20-Mar-16 10:07:13

Yeah, you're being unreasonable, and a bit of a knob to think people can just 'work hard to overcome disabilities' - so all those other people who feel limited by their disabilities just aren't trying hard enough for you?

Everyone is vulnerable at some point in their life. Some people are vulnerable for longer and need protection at those times, which should be provided. I don't see why anyone would argue against this unless they were happy to let people who needed help to be ignored and allowed to suffer.

ThroughThickAndThin01 Sun 20-Mar-16 10:08:10

I think it's a good phrase. It doesn't pigeonhole a certain group. It's a very adaptable phrase. Everyone knows what it means in the context it is said or written in. It's a good phrase IMO.

VertigoNun Sun 20-Mar-16 10:09:18

Lazy soundbites, like disabled people, instead of people with disabilities or people living with disabilities.

williaminajetfighter Sun 20-Mar-16 10:11:19

FGS Woodlice! I gave an example of people with disabilities not because I think everyone can 'overcome' their disabilities - my home-bound stepmother can't. But I work with someone who is disabled and it's more challenging for her to get to work etc -- even so I'm pretty sure she doesn't want to be seen as 'needy' etc.

'the most vulnerable in society' is a rubbish, non-specific phrase and as you can see it's now IMPOSSIBLE to challenge as a term.

callitdelta7 Sun 20-Mar-16 10:11:54

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MrsJayy Sun 20-Mar-16 10:12:30

Im a disabled person on a day to day basis im fine but on the whole I am a vulnerable person for a tonne of reasons

daffodilsoverthebridge Sun 20-Mar-16 10:13:18

The issue is with the phrase Woodlice not the vulnerable personally.

It's like Every Child Matters: originally it did what it said on the tin and now it's just meaningless.

williaminajetfighter Sun 20-Mar-16 10:14:23

Okay Mrs Jayy, but don't you feel that if someone labels you as 'vulnerable' do you not find it has a demeaning quality to it? And as if you have no voice at all? Wouldn't you find it rude if someone actually called you 'most vulnerable'?

MrsJayy Sun 20-Mar-16 10:14:45

Your workmate is vulnerable even though she is independant you can be both its not either or

daffodilsoverthebridge Sun 20-Mar-16 10:15:03

Callme, I didn't interpret the OP like that at all.

What she's saying is that a disability in itself doesn't make someone 'the most vulnerable in society' and as such it has become a bit of a lazy phrase.

'People with a disability, who can become very vulnerable for a myriad of reasons' is a better one to me (as an example.)

Dawndonnaagain Sun 20-Mar-16 10:15:51

For example, a disabled person may be politically disadvantaged and need more assistance but I'm not sure if they want to be painted as 'vulnerable' and 'needy' especially if they work hard to overcome their disabilities. What about people with disabilities unable to work hard to overcome their disabilities. Yesterday was the birthday of a friend who was cremated on Monday. She had an incurable brain disorder, having worked with people with learning disabilities all of her life. How should she have overcome being one of the most vulnerable in society?
You may not like the phrase, but there are people who are vulnerable and to whom the term applies. That may be changeable at certain points, that would be because both government and society are flux.

callitdelta7 Sun 20-Mar-16 10:15:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

williaminajetfighter Sun 20-Mar-16 10:15:52

Mrs Jayy - agree workmate IS vulnerable, just not sure if she'd want to be tagged with that name, as if she has no political agency at all.

StealthPolarBear Sun 20-Mar-16 10:16:22

But surely it's self defining? If you are a disabled person, as many are, who doesn't feel vulnerable then you're not in it! I see it as a way to avoid getting into the "not all parents on low incomes have children who are vulnerable" debate. Because of course they don't.
You're right thoufh that it needs to be underpinned by actual analysis of who the vulnerable groups are.

Dawndonnaagain Sun 20-Mar-16 10:16:32

I'd have no issue with 'disabled children
I would. They are children with disabilites.

williaminajetfighter Sun 20-Mar-16 10:17:12

maybe we need a universal definition for 'vulnerable' because we continue to use it for a variety of reasons….

I really shouldn't have started this post because people ARE going to flame me even if I just don't like a bad phrase!!!

Dawndonnaagain Sun 20-Mar-16 10:18:00

Oh, and I too am a vulnerable member of society. I have a number of disabilities. I was still vulnerable when lecturing.

williaminajetfighter Sun 20-Mar-16 10:19:12

And it's important to note that while I used disability as an example (and probably shouldn't have) the term vulnerable is used for everything from people without work to anyone who receives govt assistance. It's about the way the phrase is used for bloody everything that 'can't be named'!

daffodilsoverthebridge Sun 20-Mar-16 10:19:48

Yes, thank you for drawing my attention to that Dawn; I am normally quite careful but slipped up there flowers

williaminajetfighter Sun 20-Mar-16 10:20:12

But Dawn would you be happy for a politician to point to you and call you the 'most vulnerable in society'? It's a horribly belittling phrase, quite frankly.

MrsJayy Sun 20-Mar-16 10:20:13

No I dont find it demeaning because imo it is a fact

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