Abstract: The article explores how categories of deserving and undeserving groups are established in policy designs and how social target groups are constructed according to such distinctions. Institutionalised systems of exclusion and inclusion have a profound impact on citizenship and substantial democracy. Neoliberalist political ideas and attitudes have strengthened the focus on deserving and undeserving groups over the last years and spurred a popular belief that welfare fraud is rampant. This tendency has led to a retrenchment of established rights and increasing use of illiberal means to further punish the undeserving. This article discusses these issues further by looking at the position of lone mothers in Denmark and how they constitute a social target group defined by their class, gender, ethnic, and religious differences. Categories of deservingness are also framed in national narratives and politics of belonging.
Keywords: Denmark; deservingness; single mother; social exclusion; welfare state; women