Activation and Labour Market Reforms in Europe: Challenges by S. Betzelt, S. Bothfeld

By S. Betzelt, S. Bothfeld

This publication analyzes in what means activation regulations effect on given styles of social citizenship that predominate in nationwide contexts. It argues that the liberal paradigm of activation brought into labour industry guidelines in all Western eu states demanding situations the categorical styles of social citizenship in each one nation.

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Temporary income loss may have considerable consequences if, for example, people have to pay off private loans, but the risk of suffering a durable income loss and maybe even an irreversible loss of professional qualification (if a person cannot find an adequate job within a given time period), represents an even stronger impact on a person’s autonomy. Cuts for elderly unemployed are particularly problematic as later pension levels may be decreased considerably and thus increase (infinite) dependence on basic income schemes in retirement age.

The institutionalized principles on which the distributive mechanisms are based are, however, rarely considered. 1 . Apart from the feminist debate a questioning of the mechanisms of how social equity is produced has hardly been addressed although the literature on ‘new social risks’ comprehensively illustrates the biased structure of social security provision (see for example Taylor-Gooby, 2004; Bonoli, 2005). Meanwhile, social research has become even more attentive to segmentation effects and observes increasingly widening divides, which some scholars have described as the ‘dualization’ of our social security systems (Palier and Thelen, 2010).

Activation policy reforms reflect a new ethical justification of social security provision, mainly by redefining the individual’s responsibility for her economic subsistence through employment, emphasizing people’s work capacity and obligations, and diminishing the state’s duty to intervene (Dean, 2007). Of course, we find varying activation strategies in different types of welfare state regimes (Van Berkel and Hornemann Moeller, 2002a; Barbier, 2004a; Serrano Pascual, 2007). Obviously, we are well prepared to understand shifts that have occurred in the normative dimension of social security provision, which are driven by the introduction and amplification of activation policies, but, as some authors claim, the connection between normative and institutional change has not been analysed systematically (Lister, 1997; Kildal, 2003).

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