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Welfare Reform on the Web (September 2010): Social security - overseas

Dialogued-based activation: a new 'dispositif'?

A.W. Born and P.H. Jensen

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 30, 2010, p. 326-336

In most European countries the Individual Action Plan (IAP) has become a major policy instrument in providing active welfare for social security claimants. An IAP is a written contractual-style agreement between the client and the welfare agency, which outlines actions to be taken by each party. It is based on a dialogue or negotiations between the client and his/her case worker. During this dialogue, the needs and wishes of the individual in question are articulated, which allegedly facilitates provision of tailored services to reintegrate the client into the labour market. This paper argues that IAP-like dialogues have spread beyond labour market activation and are practiced in human resource management conversations, supervision, coaching, etc. In Foucauldian terms, IAP represents a new 'dispositif'.

Identifying the effect of a welfare-to-work program using program capacity constraints: a New York City quasi-experiment

J. Ifcher

Eastern Economic Journal, vol. 36, 2010, p. 299-316

In 1999 New York City created the Employment Services and Placement Program (ESPP), a job training and outplacement assistance programme for its General Aid recipients. Eleven private contractors were hired to provide ESPP services and were paid for each recipient they placed in a job. Prior to implementation, there were over 10,000 General Aid recipients who were eligible for the ESPP. As all eligible recipients could not be accommodated simultaneously, they were enrolled in waves. The programme's impact is identified using a quasi-experiment in which selectees are compared to concomitantly eligible non-selectees. Results show that selectees were 15% more likely to start a job and 10% more likely to exit welfare than non-selectees

The just city for whom? Re-conceiving active citizenship for lone mothers in Canada

P. Gurstein and S. Vilches

Gender, Place and Culture, vol.17, 2010, p. 421-436

In this article, the authors argue that the 'just city' is one that enables individuals to exercise their citizenship, including making choices to participate (or not) in communal life. Based on the experience of a sample of welfare-dependent lone mothers in Vancouver, BC the unjust city is filled with impediments which prevent them from providing for themselves and their children: inadequate welfare rates, lack of affordable and secure housing, food insecurity, lack of childcare and poor access to transport. They are also subject to constant state scrutiny and to the threat of having their children removed and taken into care. Their daily struggles to evade the state and cope with poverty leave them with little surplus time and energy to exercise their duties as contributing citizens in the political sense. The authors call on city planners in local government to understand and engage with the lives of lone mothers, providing them with both supports and opportunities in the urban environment.

Learning in international governmental organizations: the case of social protection

F. Duina and P. Nedergaard

Global Social Policy, vol. 10, 2010, p. 193-217

This paper carries out a comparative study of the policy learning process in three inter-governmental organisations: the EU, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the Nordic Council of Ministers, using social protection as a case study. It investigates what is being learned, and the factors which block and promote learning, using an analysis of the formal design of the organisations and face-to-face interviews with high-ranking bureaucrats.

Network governance of active employment policy: the Danish experience

B. Damgaard and J. Torfing

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 20, 2010, p.248-262

The recent Danish governance reform in the field of active employment policy has created a multi-level system based on local one-stop job centres in which the state and the municipalities work together to provide employment services for the unemployed. The 91 local Job Centres are overseen by four regional employment agencies and a national employment agency, all controlled by the Ministry of Employment. Each public agency is matched at the national, regional and local levels by a corresponding set of institutions representing key stakeholders. Thus the Ministry of Employment is flanked by the National Employment Council; the new regional employment agencies are matched by regional employment councils; and the local job centres are anchored in local employment councils. This article aims to analyse the impact of the governance reform by exploring the form and functioning of the local employment councils.

Qualitative methods for assessing conditional cash transfer programmes: the case of Panama

W.F. Waters

Development in Practice, vol. 20, 2010, p. 678-689

Governments in Latin America and elsewhere have implemented conditional cash transfer programmes to improve standards of living in populations defined as vulnerable and excluded from the benefits of development, to enable access to education and health services, and to develop human capital. Qualitative research conducted among three indigenous groups in Panama provides lessons for assessing these programmes on the basis of the perceptions and culturally informed beliefs and practices of potential beneficiaries.

The risks of being a lone mother on income support in Canada and the USA

A. Gazso and S.A. McDaniel

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 30, 2010, p. 368-386

This paper offers a critical analysis of how neo-liberalism shapes income support policy and lone mothers' experiences in Canada and the USA. Parallel but different welfare state reforms have been pursued in the two countries, most notably the introduction of welfare-to-work programmes designed to invest in and regulate poor mothers' employability and presumed self-sufficiency. It is concluded that welfare-to-work policies designed according to neo-liberal logic have actually exposed lone mothers to greater, rather than lesser, social and economic insecurity and inequality. In addition, such policies have made such women more rather than less dependent on insecure work and on others to survive.

Social security spending in times of crisis

N. Prasad and M. Gerecke

Global Social Policy, vol. 10, 2010, p.218-247

This article investigates the link between social security spending and financial crises. It shows that social security regimes have often been born out of crisis. In addition, on average, social security spending increases over the course of a crisis; however, there is wide regional variation, with advanced countries exhibiting the most countercyclical spending. The article lends support to the thesis that crises can be used to improve and strengthen social security. In strengthening their social security systems, countries both mitigate the worst effects of the crisis, and create better social policy.

Unemployed citizen or 'at risk' client? Classification systems and employment services in Denmark and Australia

D. Caswell, G. Marston and J.E. Larsen

Critical Social Policy, vol. 30, 2010, p. 384-404

Denmark and Australia are in the forefront of using standardised classification systems to assess risk of long term unemployment by differentiating categories of unemployed people. Using governmentality as the theoretical framework, this article considers the implications of reducing complex social problems to statistical scores and differentiated categories - forms of knowledge that diminish the capacity to think about unemployment as a collective problem requiring collective solutions.

Who cares? Assessing generosity and gender equality in parental leave policy designs in 21 countries

R. Ray, J.C. Gornick and J. Schmitt

Journal of European Social Policy, vol.20, 2010, p.196-216

Parental leave laws can support new parents in two complementary ways: by offering job protected leave and by offering financial support during the leave. This study assesses the design of parental leave policies operating in 21 high-income countries. Specifically, it analyses how these countries vary with respect to the generosity of their parental leave policies; the extent to which their policy designs are gender egalitarian; and the ways in which these two dimensions are inter-related. The study finds that public policies in all 21 countries protect at least one parent's job for a period of weeks, months or years following the birth or adoption of a child. The availability and generosity of wage replacement varies widely, as does the gendered nature of policy designs.

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