• Martha Lykke Aagaard
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)
This thesis focuses on recipients of unemployment insurance at a time where recent legislative changes in the regarding policies have reduced the unemployment insurance entitlement from 4 to 2 years. Thus, this has created a group of long-term unemployed, who is threatened by benefit exhaustions.

The thesis examines how these long-term unemployed, threatened by benefit exhaustions, perceive their unemployment status in perspective of the individualization of unemployment that is currently highlighted in Danish labour market policies and in the public debate regarding these policies. In these views, unemployment is often portrayed as a matter of individual responsibility and personal guilt.

The study centres around gaining a closer understanding of these unemployed recipients of unemployment insurance and their own perception and experience of their unemployment status and their views of unemployment. The surveys empirical material is based on qualitative data, which is collected by interviewing 4 long-term unemployed threatened by benefit exhaustion in 2013.

The study shows to some extent different views among the informers, though from which certain patterns are identified and thematised in the analysis of this thesis.
The study shows, that the interviewed unemployed enrol themselves in either an understanding of unemployment characterised by individual responsibility and personal guilt, where motivation, work ethics and moral is highlighted, or in an understanding of unemployment as a structural rather than an individual problem, in terms of the lack of demand for labour being held responsible rather than the individual unemployed. However, the analysis indicates that the current labour market policies with its both concrete and rhetorical focus on self-responsibility and motivation calls for a certain behaviour and attitude among the unemployed, for which they feel they can gain a greater deal of legitimacy within their unemployed status. The unemployed not subscribing to this individualized view on unemployment and the massive focus on responsible and motivated behaviour and attitude thus experience themselves disqualified for a worthy and legitimate status as unemployed. In cases where the unemployed reject or show scepticism towards the labour market policies and the legislative changes in the unemployment insurance entitlement, and withholds the viewpoint of unemployment as a structural and political matter, the consequences of unemployment is nevertheless still seen on an individual level; either it displays itself in symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression, or in an acknowledgement of this outsider position, where they either submit to the labour market system and the required behaviour and attitude, or withdraw and make their own path independent from benefits and the demands connected to these.

Furthermore the study of the unemployed and their experience of their unemployment status shows, that the position as a long termed unemployed about to loose unemployment insurance is indeed a threatened and uncertain position, and just as the explanations of unemployment in both the regarding policies and in the perception of the unemployed themselves to some extent are viewed as an individualized matter, the consequences are also to be found on this level. The individualization of the understanding of unemployment combined with benefit exhaustions is thus a very vulnerable position, which might lead to self-blame and guilt feelings. Even if the unemployed manage to reject this guilt, the consequences of the exhaustion of unemployment insurance remain individual, real and threatening.
Publication date28 Aug 2013
Number of pages115
Publishing institutionAalborg Universitet
ID: 80441985