Welfare-to-work or activation policies refer to programmes aimed at promoting the employability, labour-market and social participation of benefit recipients of working age. Frontline workers delivering these policies are conceived of as policy implementers, as policy makers, and as actors mediating politics in an arena where conflicting interests are at stake. Frontline work plays a crucial role in determining what welfare-to-work practically means and how it affects the lives of the people it targets. Yet few books have deliberatively focused on comparing what happens when frontline workers, some of whom are professional social workers, meet clients.
Pioneering the provision of scholarly reflections on both theoretical and policy relevance of studying frontline practices of delivering activation, internationally renowned researchers present the first comparative analysis of how activation policies are actually delivered by frontline staff in selected EU countries and in the United States. In trying to understand and interpret frontline practices in activation, each contribution provides insights into what ‘activation in practice’ looks like, what services are provided and how they are enacted. This involves examining processes of client selection, monitoring, sanctioning and motivating, as well as the role of external service providers.
This book is an important acquisition for scholars and researchers of social policy, public administration, public management, social work and policy implementation.
Table of Contents
1. The Frontline Delivery of Welfare-to-Work in Context
Dorte Caswell, Peter Kupka, Flemming Larsen and Rik van Berkel
2. State of the Art in Frontline Studies of Welfare-to-Work: A Literature Review
Rik van Berkel
3. Street-Level Organizations and US Workfare: Insights for Policy and Theory
Evelyn Z. Brodkin
4. Activation in the UK: The Front line and the ‘Black Box’ of Employment Service Provision
5. Back-to-Work Services in France and the Flexibility Edict
6. Activation ‘Made in Germany’ – Welfare-to-Work services under ‘Social Code II’
Peter Kupka and Christopher Osiander
7. On the Frontline of Public Employment Services in Austria and Italy: Which Professionalism for which Practices?
8. Activation Work within the Social Welfare System. The Case of Poland
Tomasz Kaźmierczak and Marek Rymsza
9. The Street-Level Activation of the Unemployed Remote and Very Remote from the Labour Market. The Dutch Case
Rik van Berkel
10. Frontline Work in the delivery of Danish Activation Policies – and How Governance, Organizational and Occupational Contexts Shape This
Dorte Caswell and Flemming Larsen
11. Conclusions and Topics for Future Research
Dorte Caswell, Flemming Larsen, Rik van Berkel and Peter Kupka
Rik van Berkel is an associate professor at the Utrecht School of Governance, Utrecht University, the Netherlands. His research interests are situated on the interface of social policy, public administration and public organization studies, and include welfare state transformations, implementing new models for the provision of social services, and processes of change in public organizations.
Dorte Caswell is an associate professor at the Department of Sociology and Social Work, Aalborg University, Denmark. She is the head of SAB, a research group focusing on social work at the frontline of active labour market and social policy. Her research focuses on social work under the canopy of active labour market and social policy.
Peter Kupka is a senior researcher at the Institute for Employment Research, Nuremberg, Germany. His research interests include processes of counselling and job placement, the situation of – and case work for – unemployed persons with mental health problems.
Flemming Larsen is a professor at the Centre for Labour Market Research (CARMA), Aalborg University, Denmark. His research focuses on labour market and social policy. One major research topic has been labour market models. Another important field of research is analyses of labour market and social policy reforms, studying changes (and trends) in policies.
'Welfare-to-work is one of the major shifts in welfare over the last decades. Combining national case studies and thought-provoking theoretical chapters, this book provides the reader with concrete information on the actual ‘activation’ practices and proposes an innovative framework to understand what is at stake at the frontline of the new welfare state. A must-read to grasp what ‘activation policy’ really is, and to figure out its impact on people subjected to it.' - Vincent Dubois, University of Strasbourg, France
'These studies demonstrate the importance of examining signature welfare state policies through the reactions and behavior of front-line workers. Bringing these studies of welfare-to-work policies in the United States and eight European countries together in a single volume is an impressive achievement.' - Michael Lipsky, Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos, author of Street-Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Services