With a particular focus on cultural understandings and the concepts behind welfare policies, the purpose of this paper is to analyse commonalities and dissimilarities in the patterns of social policy, and more precisely youth unemployment policies, in Sweden and Germany.
A document analysis of Swedish and German youth unemployment policies was conducted with regard to how the two welfare regimes’ policies define the underlying problem, the instruments through which this problem is tackled, and the aim of youth activation policies.
The findings show congruency concerning the definitions of the problem of youth unemployment, in which the unemployed are regarded as lacking in discipline, as well as in the policies through which the problem is tackled: through conditionality and pastoral power as policy tools. The solution of the problem on the other hand, found in the notion of the ideal worker to be produced, diverges between active entrepreneurs in one country, and blue-collar workers in the other. The authors conclude that the introduction of supranational policy concepts is not a matter of mere implementation, and that concepts like activation are reinterpreted according to differing cultural ideologies and accommodated into the context of particular welfare states.
This paper provides an innovative framework for the understanding of the influence of cultural understandings on policy making, but also on challenges facing activation governance on the one hand and European Union policy initiatives and transnational policy diffusion on the other.
Results presented in this paper have been obtained within the project “Youth, Unemployment, and Exclusion in Europe: A Multidimensional Approach to Understanding the Conditions and Prospects for Social and Political Integration of Young Unemployed” (YOUNEX). This project was funded by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme (grant agreement No. 216122). The authors are indebted to three anonymous reviewers for helpful and insightful comments and to Christian Lahusen, Birgitta Eriksson, Patrik Larsson, Jonas Axelsson, and Paolo Graziano for comments on earlier versions of this paper.
Grimmer, B. and Hobbins, J. (2014), "Active entrepreneurs and blue-collar workers. Cultural understandings mirrored in European youth unemployment policies", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 34 No. 7/8, pp. 559-576. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-07-2013-0084Download as .RIS
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