Bringing the client back in: A comparison between political rationality and experiences from the unemployed

Publikation: Forskning - peer reviewTidsskriftartikel

Abstrakt

Categorising the ‘job readiness’ of the unemployed client is a task of utmost importance for active labour market policies. Scholarly attention on the topic has mostly focused on either questions of political legitimacy or questions of how categories are practically negotiated in meetings between welfare system and client. This paper suggests a comparative design in which the government rhetoric of job readiness is contrasted with findings from a qualitative longitudinal study into the lived experiences of recent welfare reforms in Denmark. Thus, our study set out to explore how job readiness is defined, when taking the viewpoint of vulnerable unemployed subjects themselves. A group of 25 vulnerable social assistance receivers were interviewed repeatedly in a qualitative longitudinal study from 2013-2015. The analysis presents four striking discrepancies between the government rhetoric on job readiness on one hand, and the logic of job readiness found in the vast qualitative material on the other. We conclude that this specific comparative perspective is fruitful as it adds to the analysis of political categorization the perspective of targeted individuals themselves – thereby avoiding a well-known poststructuralist risk of reducing welfare clients to mere formable objects. Furthermore, the analysis presents a critical view on current categorisation practices, as it strongly and in great detail exemplifies what current government rhetoric fails to address.
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Detaljer

Categorising the ‘job readiness’ of the unemployed client is a task of utmost importance for active labour market policies. Scholarly attention on the topic has mostly focused on either questions of political legitimacy or questions of how categories are practically negotiated in meetings between welfare system and client. This paper suggests a comparative design in which the government rhetoric of job readiness is contrasted with findings from a qualitative longitudinal study into the lived experiences of recent welfare reforms in Denmark. Thus, our study set out to explore how job readiness is defined, when taking the viewpoint of vulnerable unemployed subjects themselves. A group of 25 vulnerable social assistance receivers were interviewed repeatedly in a qualitative longitudinal study from 2013-2015. The analysis presents four striking discrepancies between the government rhetoric on job readiness on one hand, and the logic of job readiness found in the vast qualitative material on the other. We conclude that this specific comparative perspective is fruitful as it adds to the analysis of political categorization the perspective of targeted individuals themselves – thereby avoiding a well-known poststructuralist risk of reducing welfare clients to mere formable objects. Furthermore, the analysis presents a critical view on current categorisation practices, as it strongly and in great detail exemplifies what current government rhetoric fails to address.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftSocial Policy and Administration
ISSN0144-5596
StatusAfsendt - apr. 2016
PublikationsartForskning
Peer reviewJa

    Forskningsområder

  • political categorisation, active labour market policies, welfare reforms, job readiness, unemployment, qualitative research
ID: 232618943