The authors emphasize an overlooked raison d’être for public banks. They argue that limiting public banks to filling the gaps left by private banks, the standard argument in economics, neglects a very important dimension of public banks, that is, their capacity to act countercyclically and thereby stabilize access to credit during economic downturns. Taking a cue from Hyman Minsky, they point to the immanent volatility of financial markets dominated by private actors. In order to counter destabilizing tendencies, the presence of institutions with the logic of action that differs from that of the market is necessary. As public banks are not primarily concerned with profitability, they can play this role. To a certain extent, their presence in the market is an automatic stabilizer because public banks provide credit with long maturation. In times of crisis, they can also be used for discretionary intervention, that is, opening up new credit lines.
A Comparative Perspective
Ana Rosa Ribeiro de Mendonça and Simone Deos
The ‘activation turn’ and the new horizontal division of labour at the local level: the case of social assistance services in Austria, Belgium, Norway and Switzerland
Changes, Challenges and Policy Implications for Europe in Times of Austerity
Peter Raeymaeckers, Bettina Leibetseder, Robert Fluder, Erika Gubrium and Danielle Dierckx
In this chapter we focus on social assistance services, such as housing, childcare, counselling and other types of benefits, that are provided to people receiving a guaranteed subsistence income from the state, defined here as social assistance beneficiaries. These services are delivered by social workers in public agencies, often collaborating with other public and non-profit service providers at the local level. We specifically address how these social assistance services have been affected by the so-called ‘activation turn’ in social assistance. We present evidence on the horizontal division of labour between local government actors and a variety of service organisations (public, non-profit and private) and how this division of labour is affected by activation policies in four European cities: Graz in Austria, Antwerp in Belgium, Berne in Switzerland and Oslo in Norway. At the end of the chapter we reflect on the consequences of the activation turn in terms of increasing pressure on local actors. We hypothesise that the latter are increasingly ‘creaming the crop’ by creating a selection mechanism that favours the ‘best’ clients, those who are able to make the transition towards the labour market, over the ‘worst’ clients, those who are not able to find a job.
How Active Labour Market Policies Shaped the Dual Earner Model
This book is about how the activation of women into paid work was accomplished. On what ideational grounds, and using what concrete measures, were the conditions created for increasing the employment ratio of women – and thus also bidding farewell to male breadwinning? The answers to these questions are outlined in seven chapters. Chapter 1 provides an introduction to the field of study. Previous research on the intersection between gender relations and family and labour market polices is outlined and analysed. Subsequently, ideas and practices underpinning activation policies over time and across Europe are presented and addressed as a way of contextualizing the Swedish case. The consequences for gender and family relations of the presented work–family policies are also scrutinized. This is followed by a presentation of the main conceptual tools of the study. Historical institutionalism is used as an overarching theoretical frame, including the significance of the political and bureaucratic elite in social and political change, the evolution of state feminism, and the political culture in the golden age of the welfare state. The chapter also addresses methodological issues related to the empirical findings.