Makeshift Work in a Changing Labour Market

Makeshift Work in a Changing Labour Market

The Swedish Model in the Post-Financial Crisis Era

Edited by Christina Garsten, Jessica Lindvert and Renita Thedvall

In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, people who had never before had cause to worry about losing their jobs entered the ranks of the unemployed for the first time. In Sweden, the welfare state has been radically challenged and mass unemployment has become a reality in what used to be viewed as a model case for a full employment society. With an emphasis on Sweden in the context of transnational regulatory change, Makeshift Work in a Changing Labour Market discusses how the market mediates employment and moves on to explore the ways in which employees adjust to a new labour market. Focusing on the legibility, measurability and responsibility of jobseekers, the expert contributors of this book bring together an analysis of activation policy and new ways of organizing the mediation of work, with implications for the individual jobseeker.

Chapter 7: Transition programmes: a disciplining practice

Ilinca Benson

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, organisation studies, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory


In order to succeed in working life, it is not enough to simply do a good job or to develop in one’s profession. It is becoming increasingly important to be good at changing jobs. We speak today less and less about employment security and more and more about employability. While employment security places an emphasis on the security in the employment relationship between an employee and employer, employability stresses the importance of being attractive and in demand in the market (Garsten and Jacobsson 2004). In other words, people need to learn to be competent market actors. Transition programmes have become a central instrument in the Swedish labour market to increase people’s employability. These programmes involve activities aimed at providing guidance and counselling for how to look for a job and, in the best case scenario, bridge the time from redundancy to new employment for those made redundant and those at risk of losing their jobs. The programmes strive to offer a set-up that is realistically as work-like as possible, where people who have lost their jobs receive support on how best to proceed to find a new one. In this chapter, I argue that there is a discrepancy between talk and action in the transition programmes. The programmes are presented as being individually based on each person: people are regarded as independent actors who have a choice. Great importance is put on introspection and self-development.

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