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 12: Negotiating social citizenship at the street-level: local activation policies and individualization in Sweden and Poland

Christina Garsten, Kerstin Jacobsson and Karolina Sztandar-Sztanderska

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

Abstract

Finally, in Chapter 12 on the individual level of coordinated employment and social policies, Christina Garsten, Kerstin Jacobsson and Karolina Sztandar-Sztanderska examine how the individualization of policy interventions, with its focus on the individual responsibility of the unemployed and tailor-made service provision, plays out in the interactions between individual service providers and service users in Sweden and Poland. The authors perceive an immanent tension between the individualization of services and the requirement to cater for a large number of jobseekers, ration access to limited resources, accommodate new management techniques and apply formal eligibility criteria. Garsten, Jacobsson and Sztandar-Sztanderska argue that individualized interventions often rely on surprisingly standardized assessment tools in practice, and that workfarist and New Public Management-type public sector reforms have introduced new task priorities that conflict with individual assessment. Paradoxically, therefore, institutional changes that were geared towards a better diagnosis and treatment of the unemployed’s social problems, motivation to work and job-search activities have contributed to a depersonalization of the caseworker–client relationship. The key finding of Chapter 12 is that individualization is currently enacted as an individualization of responsibility rather than as an individualization of interventions.

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