Talking Policy into Being: How Street-level Bureaucrats and Vulnerable Unemployed Talk about Labour Market Participation

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Abstract

Active labor market policy is talked into being in meetings between street-level bureaucrats and vulnerable unemployed. Recent developments in the street-level bureaucracy literature has identified potentials in more ethnographic work and a closer attention to responsiveness as a core value of the frontline work (Brodkin 2012; Zacka 2017). Contributing to this, the analytical perspective in this article is informed by conversation analysis and data consist of naturally occurring institutional interactions. The patterns of talk consist of both general and concrete talk. The general talk is broad and unclear, but institutionally and politically legitimate. The concrete talk is characterized by words specifically addressing work places, wishes, and experiences of the unemployed client. General talk function is to keep a labor market perspective acceptable and relevant, even when talking to vulnerable clients. This is, however, insufficient in a policy implementation perspective, as it is the concrete talk that enables the parties to negotiate and promote possible positive policy outcomes in ways that are responsive to the needs and wishes of the individual client.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6
JournalEuropean Policy Analysis
Volume6
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)23– 37
Number of pages15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 May 2020

Keywords

  • active labor market policy
  • institutional interaction
  • social work
  • street-level bureaucracy
  • vulnerable unemployed

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