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Implementing Activation Policies

An Analysis of Social and Labour Market Policy Reforms in Continental Europe with a Focus on Local Case Studies in France and Germany

Sebastian Künzel

Continental Europe’s welfare states have recently initiated a shift from passive policies towards goals of an activation of the unemployed. Their aim is to organise more individualised approaches and to provide targeted job placement, active labour market policy and social services. Analysing these reforms, this book illustrates that a successful implementation of activation policies is highly contingent on their local organisation. This finding is reinforced by a series of case studies in France and Germany revealing large differences in the local application of the reforms. Consequently, the question of reliable multilevel governance solutions becomes a key issue. In view of this challenge, the book compares different approaches practiced to govern activation policies in Continental Europe.
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2. The challenge of rising numbers of minimum income recipients in Bismarckian-type continental welfare systems

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2.  The challenge of rising numbers of minimum income recipients in Bismarckian-type continental welfare systems

The aim of this chapter is to understand the increase in the number of beneficiaries of once negligible social assistance in Bismarckian welfare states. For a long time, this last-resort minimum income protection was a residual option in insurance-based Bismarckian welfare states. Crucial economic and societal evolutions, however, in particular defy the Bismarckian welfare state model with regard to its capacity to guarantee inclusion, welfare and employment.

The development of minimum income schemes is connected to the question of how welfare states cope with fundamental social and economic transformations. Important economic changes are introduced through greater international competition and the turn towards knowledge-based patterns of production. Both developments raise productivity requirements, demand greater flexibility and orient the economy towards services (Ruggie 1982; Ferrera et al. 2000). These developments have important implications for labour markets and employment. In general, individual skill-demands are raised (Schmid 2006). As a result, employment dynamics turn out to be much more volatile and difficult for the less-skilled, weaker and more vulnerable groups of society and the labour market. This can pose problems of inclusion, welfare and employment leading to an increase in the number of beneficiaries of minimum income schemes.

Moreover, principal societal changes challenge the welfare state in important ways. Self-determination and self-fulfilment become driving choices of life and work (Beck 1983; Giddens 1991). Family formation is challenged by a greater female participation in...

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