Integrating Social and Employment Policies in Europe

Integrating Social and Employment Policies in Europe

Active Inclusion and Challenges for Local Welfare Governance

Edited by Martin Heidenreich and Deborah Rice

A central goal of European activation policies is to integrate social and employment policies into a coherent active inclusion approach that fosters social cohesion and enhances the employment chances of vulnerable groups. This requires a reorganisation of social and employment services especially at the local level. On the basis of empirical studies of six European welfare states, this book explores how different institutional contexts influence localised service delivery and how local actors deal with the associated coordination challenges.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Martin Heidenreich and Deborah Rice

Subjects: politics and public policy, european politics and policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, labour policy, welfare states


The local level plays a crucial role for the regulation and provision of employment and social services. This claim, which is at the core of this edited volume, would have been no surprise in the nineteenth century, while for most of the twentieth century, it would have been seen as unfounded. From the nineteenth century until the prosperous ‘glorious thirty years’ (Fourastié 1979) after the Second World War, the modern welfare state succeeded in constructing poverty and unemployment as societal problems (cf Whiteside 2014), creating safety nets for the poor and unemployed, and centralizing employment policies. While anti-poverty measures had been the obligation of the municipality of origin since the late medieval age (as the history of the mostly urban workhouses shows), job placement and early forms of unemployment benefits were organized by a plurality of actors in early industrial society – mostly locally organized trade unions or trades that acted on the specific requirements of the local economy (Leibfried and Tennstedt 1985, Whiteside 2014). In the course of the twentieth century, the local focus of social and employment policies was radically transformed by the emergence of national labour markets and systems of social protection: job placement, training and further education, unemployment assistance and social benefits came to be mostly provided by national employment agencies in accordance with national regulations, and financed by national taxes or national social security contributions.