Active Inclusion and Challenges for Local Welfare Governance
Edited by Martin Heidenreich and Deborah Rice
Chapter 12: Negotiating social citizenship at the street-level: local activation policies and individualization in Sweden and Poland
AbstractFinally, 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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