Handbook on Society and Social Policy
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Handbook on Society and Social Policy

Edited by Nicholas Ellison and Tina Haux

This comprehensive Handbook provides a unique overview of the key issues and challenges facing society and social policy in the twenty-first century, discussing how welfare is conceptualised, organised and delivered in contemporary global society. Chapters engage with specific areas of social policy as well as with the social divisions and institutional infrastructures that underpin them. The Handbook also considers how social policy should respond to the challenges posed by austerity, human migration and the climate crisis.
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Chapter 22: Changing work and welfare: unemployment and labour market policies

Bernhard Ebbinghaus


The world of work has changed considerably across advanced economies, leading to mass unemployment and increasing flexibilization of employment, requiring multiple welfare state interventions. There has been a paradigm change from more passive to more active labour market policies. This chapter looks at the changes from a societal and social policy perspective. It focuses on changing work-societies, welfare state policies to combat unemployment, and activation of labour market policies, mapping trends across OECD countries since the 1970s. The chapter discusses key concepts and dominant approaches, provides a historical overview on social policy responses, and discusses the rise of mass unemployment and the paradigm shift in labour market policy. It reviews unemployment benefit reforms and labour market policies in the last two decades, before concluding with a discussion of dualization, flexibilization, and deregulation trends.

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