Makeshift Work in a Changing Labour Market
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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.
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Chapter 4: Public employment officers as brokers and therapists

Julia Peralta


Public employment officers have a key position in the labour market. In Sweden the state was the sole player in the design and execution of the labour market policy during a large part of the 1900s. Since the 1990s, there are many actors executing labour market policies, including private employment agencies. In this chapter, the Public Employment Service is in focus. They find themselves at a number of intersecting points: between politicians and jobseekers; between employers and jobseekers; and between employers and politicians. The public employment officers operate in a force field of different demands and expectations. The category of public employment officers can in principle be broken down into two specializations. Their work is oriented either to placement tasks or to guidance and counselling tasks. This chapter provides insight into the significant differences between these specializations – into where priorities are made, what tools and resources the public employment officers have at their disposal, and how their relationships with jobseekers and employers take shape. The placement officer (employment officer) and the counsellor reflect two ideological versions of contemporary society: the broker society and the therapy society. Despite a formal divide between (employment) counsellors and placement officers having disappeared since the early 2000s, the informal division continues to be decisive for how the day-to-day work is organized.

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