Political governance and control of the employment effort

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Ulla-Birgitte Nies
4. term, Social Work, Master (Master Programme)

This thesis examines whether evidence-oriented research tests are used to control the activation efforts towards long-term unemployed receivers of welfare benefits and, furthermore, discusses the impact the political management and control of the employment effort may have on the professionalism and social practise on the job centre staff.

The examination demonstrates how the area of employment is ruled by a workfare discourse focusing on work and activation as the road to being included – for the weakest unemployed, too. The main discourse, New Public Management (NPM), has for a number of years made their mark on the public institutions to which there have been added a number of practise regulations within the job centres, increasing focus on further efficiency of the public sector by using tools similar to market management tools. Today, the evidence-oriented research operate in several areas of the social work field, arguing that the evidence-oriented research tests may be used as control and supply ‘the best possible knowledge’ of whether the social efforts lead to the desired effect.

A total of eight qualitative interviews with mid-level managers and employees have been conducted in two job centres in Copenhagen. The transcribed interviews and chosen public documents concerning political government and control of the employment effort have been analysed by using Norman Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis as an example of discourses used by the job centre. Mitchell Dean’s theory on governmentality has been used as the basis of discussing and analysing the text material and answering the proposed problem. Thus, the political management and control of the employment effort is analysed theoretically related to society issues as well as in a discourse manner.

The essay concludes that evidence-oriented research tests as a new phenomenon is being used to control efforts related to long-term unemployed receivers of cash benefits and that evidence-oriented practice is not (yet) a high-profile discourse within this part of the employment effort. The examination also points out how the employment staff is divided into two overriding groups with the minority educated group stating that they feel that their professional language and work standards are being taken over by the political administrative discourse management in the job centre, and that target management and documentation precedes quality in the social and employment aimed work with the long-termed unemployed. However, the staffs educated within the system does not experience the same level of ambivalence in consideration of requirements of documentation and the consideration of the unemployed as they form a considerable gap between the job centre as a business and the job centre as a social institution. This means that these employees easier adapt situations with a higher regard to financial and procedure requirements over the quality in social efforts, as they do not experience divergence between professional practical skills and anchored fundamental assumptions.

Publication date9 Sept 2010
Number of pages100
Publishing institutionAalborg Universitet, Kandidatuddannelsen i Socialt Arbejde
ID: 36989028