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Active entrepreneurs and blue-collar workers.: Cultural understandings mirrored in European youth unemployment policies
Siegen University, Germany.
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (starting 2013), Karlstad Business School.
2014 (English)In: International journal of sociology and social policy, ISSN 0144-333X, E-ISSN 1758-6720, Vol. 34, no 7/8, 559-576 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose – With a particular focus on cultural understandings and the concepts behind welfare policies, the purpose of this paper is to analyse commonalities and dissimilarities in the patterns of social policy, and more precisely youth unemployment policies, in Sweden and Germany.

Design/methodology/approach – A document analysis of Swedish and German youth unemployment policies was conducted with regard to how the two welfare regimes’ policies define the underlying problem, the instruments through which this problem is tackled, and the aim of youth activation policies.

Findings – The findings show congruency concerning the definitions of the problem of youth unemployment, in which the unemployed are regarded as lacking in discipline, as well as in the policies through which the problem is tackled: through conditionality and pastoral power as policy tools. The solution of the problem on the other hand, found in the notion of the ideal worker to be produced, diverges between active entrepreneurs in one country, and blue-collar workers in the other. The authors conclude that the introduction of supranational policy concepts is not a matter of mere implementation, and that concepts like activation are reinterpreted according to differing cultural ideologies and accommodated into the context of particular welfare states.

Originality/value – This paper provides an innovative framework for the understanding of the influence of cultural understandings on policy making, but also on challenges facing activation governance on the one hand and European Union policy initiatives and transnational policy diffusion on the other.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2014. Vol. 34, no 7/8, 559-576 p.
Keyword [en]
Activation, Policy reforms, Political sociology, Unemployment policies, Welfare regimes, Youth unemployment
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-33388DOI: 10.1108/IJSSP-07-2013-0084OAI: diva2:737786
Available from: 2014-08-14 Created: 2014-08-14 Last updated: 2016-03-24Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Samhälle, individ och ansvar: En studie om synen på arbetslöshet
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Samhälle, individ och ansvar: En studie om synen på arbetslöshet
2016 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[en]
Societal and individual responsibility : A study of perceptions of unemployment
Abstract [en]

The aim of the thesis is to highlight and to problematize conceptions of unemployment in Swedish society. The questions guiding my work have been: Which conceptions of unemployment emerge in society? How are these dealt with by the unemployed? Work on the thesis has been guided by a social constructionist approach. The empirical findings are constituted by four publications which, in various ways, are linked to overarching aim of the thesis. These publications consist of an analysis of the legal regulation surrounding the unemployed, a study of the activities of civil society organisations working with unemployed and two publications based on interviews with long-term unemployed young adults.

The thesis provides increased knowledge of conceptions of unemployment in Swedish society. It shows that there is a widespread societal discourse concerning the individual being responsible for her/his unemployment, and that this conception has historically been well-grounded in Swedish labour market and social policy, as well as in people’s understandings. Among representatives of civil society organisations and unemployed individuals, there is also both a questioning of and a resistance to this understanding, indicating a possible change in the discourse. The thesis further shows that the individualisation of responsibility greatly affects individuals’ approaches in social contexts, as well as in their contacts with government agencies, but also when it comes to relationships with politics and political involvement. These insights are significant, for example during both policy formulation and efforts for the unemployed, bearing in mind that consideration needs to be paid to individual prerequisites in order for the individual’s strengths and abilities to be utilized. This is particulary important when it comes to those in an exposed position.

Abstract [sv]

”Men alltså grejen är ju att i dagens samhälle, i min ålder... Det är så många som är arbetslösa så det är så godkänt nu liksom. Folk tänker bara ’jaha är du också arbetslös’... Liksom antingen är dom arbetslösa själva, eller så har dom i alla fall en kompis eller tre som också är arbetslösa.”

Den bild som framkommer i intervjun med Fredrik skiljer sig betydligt från den bild som ofta återspeglas i medier och politiska debatter, där individens egna ansvar och skyldigheter för att befinna sig i arbetslöshet betonas i allt högre grad. Dessa skilda utgångspunkter kan få olika följder ifråga om exempelvis förväntningar på arbetslösa, arbetslösa människors självbild eller arbetslöshetspolitik. Denna avhandling ger en ökad kunskap om vilka föreställningar om arbetslöshet som finns i det svenska samhället idag. Genom analyser av rättslig reglering, civilsamhälleliga organisationers verksamheter samt intervjuer med arbetslösa människor söker denna avhandling att synliggöra och problematisera förståelser av arbetslöshet samt hur dessa förståelser hanteras av arbetslösa.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Karlstad: Karlstads universitet, 2016. 112 p.
Karlstad University Studies, ISSN 1403-8099 ; 2016:12
Unemployment, unemployment policy, civil society, political particiation, individualisation, individualised responsibility, positioning, qualitative, Arbetslöshet, arbetslöshetspolitik, civilsamhälle, politisk delaktighet, individualisering, individualiserat ansvar, förhållningssätt
National Category
Work Sciences
Research subject
Working Life Science
urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-40589 (URN)978-91-7063-691-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2016-04-15, Andersalen, 11D121, Karlstads universitet, Karlstad, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2016-03-24 Created: 2016-02-22 Last updated: 2016-03-24Bibliographically approved

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