1st Edition

The Disabling State of an Active Society

ISBN 9781138260375
Published November 29, 2016 by Routledge
178 Pages

USD $62.95

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Book Description

Across the traditional welfare states of Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Canada there has been increasing emphasis on 'activation' by the unemployed as a tool for fighting unemployment. The core idea of activation programmes is the integration and empowerment of jobseekers through active work-related measures rather than passive income support. However, the empirical evidence of the efficacy of activation programmes is far from conclusive and there have been no systematic studies of the effects of activation programmes on the lives of the unemployed people who come into contact with them. This book is based on a detailed ethnographic study of the highly praised Swedish rehabilitation organization Samhall. The result is a key volume for those working and studying within welfare, poverty, disability and special needs.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Introduction; Samhall: a popular activation program; Identifying the needy; Entering Samhall; Preparatory examinations; Finding the client the right place; Developing teamwork; Structuring behavior; Specializing behavior; Motivating managers; Sheltering from reality's complexity; Developing in a disabled world; Exiting as 'non-disabled'; Lock-in as disabled; Good intentions, misunderstood results?; The disabling state of an active society; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.

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Mikael Holmqvist is Associate Professor in the School of Business at Stockholm University. He previously taught at Uppsala University and has been Visiting Fellow at Stanford and Cornell Universities. He is the author of two previous monographs in English, most recently The Institutionalization of Social Welfare (2008), and numerous articles and book chapters.


'Holmqvist’s intriguing study of a Swedish welfare agency organization, based on a Chicago sociology-style ethnography, provides first-hand insight into the everyday work life of an organization whose political ambitions and rationale do not always translate into practices that help the unemployed return to the regular labour market. This well-researched and informed scholarly work will be of interest to both organization theorists and policy makers.' Alexander Styhre, Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden 'The strengths of the work undoubtedly lie in the extensive amount of qualitative data that is presented and its organization. ... Holmqvist's study will undoubtedly prove invaluable to anyone with an interest in the ways in which disability is produced as a category through social policy. In particular, it adds considerably to a relative dearth of research about how actions at a micro-social level play a role of equal, or perhaps greater, significance to policies in shaping the category and experience of disability.' Sociology