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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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9 Conclusion: local coordination of fragmented Bismarckian welfare states


9.  Conclusion: local coordination of fragmented Bismarckian welfare states

Responding to rising numbers of minimum income recipients, activation into employment evolves in France and Germany as a fresh approach to deal with new challenges of inclusion arising. Thereby displaying a more general trend of Bismarckian-type continental welfare states, employment centred welfare presents a new attempt of the inclusion of long-term unemployed, weaker groups of society or unemployed persons with non-standard employment biographies. As this book has shown, the typically fragmented Bismarckian welfare state architecture makes the activation of persistently unemployed and vulnerable groups evolve as a process which is highly contingent on the local inter-organisation of once disparate minimum income benefit arrangements with services for placement, training, rehabilitation or care.

In general, the rising number of benefit recipients of minimum income schemes in continental European countries was conceptualised as a problem of typical Bismarckian institutions of welfare and work requesting new filter functions against the risk of minimum income receipt. The ‘division of labour’ of Bismarckian institutions between labour market policy for ‘workers’ and family welfare or passive social policy for weaker and more vulnerable groups has decreasingly proved as robust option. With regard to family welfare, fragilities have arisen due to increasing rates of family breakdown, female employment careers and the partly erosion of socially secured male breadwinner careers. In parallel, changes in production, deindustrialisation and rising atypical employment have undermined options of socially secured employment and stable male-breadwinner careers. Finally, faced with increasing demands,...

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