Browsing by Subject "workfare"

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  • Ikonen, Jaakko (Helsingfors universitet, 2016)
    The long-lasting and persistent issues of high unemployment levels and increases in long-term unemployment have presented a difficult challenge to welfare states. The political focus in addressing unemployment has slowly shifted from large supply-side solutions towards activation, which aims to guide the unemployed into employment as swiftly as possible by increasing the responsibilities of welfare recipients and reforming the terms of social aid and the service system in order to promote a more active and self-reliant approach among citizens. This paper aims to add to the understanding of activation policies by studying views that the long-term unemployed hold on the concept of activation and their participation in activation measures. The research question is 1) How do respondents view activation and particularly work-based activation measures, with a strong focus on examining whether they consider activation meaningful or beneficial in their situation and 2) How do the unemployed view the legitimacy and justification of activation policies? The perspective of the unemployed in this study is provided through eleven in-depth research interviews conducted with long-term unemployed participants from the city of Rauma, the forerunner of current Finnish activation policies. The 18 190 word final transcription of the interviews is analysed through qualitative content analysis, which is used to produce a condensed description of the researched phenomenon. The inductive approach of the study manifests as a reliance on the experiences of the interview subjects in creating an understanding on activation, rather than approaching their reality through a predetermined theory or presupposed notions. The respondents consider their participation in activation to serve one of the following purposes: 1) inclusion in society or 2) a bureaucratical means of categorizing and controlling them during their unemployment. As lack of employment and the associated inactivity are difficult issues for the respondents, their mostly positive reaction to work-based activation measures is natural. Respondents appreciate the activities provided to them and give intrinsic value to the provision of these activities, somewhat regardless of their actual contents. As the respondents generally have very low hopes of finding work, participation in activation measures satisfies many needs which are typically fulfilled through work, including those related to status, recognition, social interaction and meaningful activities. Reactions towards compulsory participation in activation measures can be categorized as either positive, negative or conflicted. As can be expected, these views reflect broader social discourses on unemployment and activation. The most alarming finding of this study is that while many participants are satisfied with taking part in activation measures, this activation does not help them towards their objective of finding employment. The respondents share a desire to find paid work but don't see how participating in active labour market policies will benefit them in this field. While the respondents identify many important aspects of life where they directly benefit from participation in activation measures, it is problematic that a large part of participants have almost completely given up on their goal of finding work.
  • Haikkola, Lotta (2019)
    Activation policies form the core of employment policies in most OECD countries. They are part of 'active' welfare states and associated neoliberal forms of governance that seek to govern through freedom by producing self-governing and responsible subjectivities. Ethnographies of governmentalities have been used in the research reported in this article to examine if and how such subjectivities are put in practice in street-level encounters in local welfare delivery. Based on an ethnographic research of youth services in the Public Employment Services (PES) in Helsinki, Finland, it is shown that despite the policy focus on active citizenship the street-level practice entails not only liberal ideas of self-governing individuals but also authoritarian measures. What is governed in the meetings is not the young people's selves but their time and behaviour. In the process, the notion of active citizenship is emptied and transformed to mean participation in supervised activities offered by the PES. Such practice also reworks the temporal structures and creates insecure and eventful experience of time for PES clients. In contrast to governing through freedom, the localized interpretation of activation policies represents the authoritarian and paternalistic side of neoliberal governance.