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Beyond the workfare state

Beyond the workfare state: Labour markets, equalities and human rights

Mick Carpenter
Stuart Speeden
Belinda Freda
Copyright Date: 2007
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  • Book Info
    Beyond the workfare state
    Book Description:

    Beyond the Workfare State explores equality, discrimination and human rights in relation to employability and 'welfare-to-work' policies. It draws extensively on new research from the SEQUAL Project, undertaken for the European Social Fund, which investigated seven dimensions of discrimination in a labour market that is theoretically 'open to all'. The book provides an overall analysis of policy shifts and presents a wide and distinctive range of illustrative studies that give voice to a variety of potentially marginalised groups. Chapters deal with obstacles to labour-market access around each of the following themes: gender and class; disability; race and ethnicity; geographical exclusion; sexual orientation; the problems of old and young people; and refugees. The authors draw attention to localised examples of promising practice, but also connect these to a broader 'human rights' agenda, linking them to changing legislative and governance frameworks. Its scope covers the whole of Great Britain and it shows how devolution in Scotland and Wales, and at the regional level in England, is creating new possibilities for mainstreaming good practice in this key area. The book will be of great interest to academics and students in social policy and related fields. It will also be valuable for professionals, policy makers and practitioners in the regeneration, community development and anti-discrimination fields, particularly in the UK but also in Europe and beyond.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-312-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iii)
  3. List of tables and figures
    (pp. iv-iv)
  4. Notes on contributors
    (pp. v-viii)
  5. ONE Introduction: towards a better workfare state, or one beyond it?
    (pp. 1-8)
    Mick Carpenter, Stuart Speeden and Belinda Freda

    This book explores the ways in which it may be possible to shift away from the current trend in the UK towards a disciplinary ‘workfare state’. It does so by first identifying the key messages arising from case study research by the eight UK universities involved in the SEQUAL Development Partnership into local case studies of inclusive, community-based approaches to accessing employment for people disadvantaged and excluded by reason of gender, class, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation, language, geography, citizenship status, and youth and older age. As well as the specific policy and practice points that arise from the case studies,...

  6. Part One: Case studies in labour market discrimination and inequalities

    • TWO Beyond the ghost town? The ‘promising practices’ of community-based initiatives in Coventry
      (pp. 11-26)
      Mick Carpenter, Barbara Merrill, Phil Cleaver and Inga Šniukaité

      This chapter explores two major themes from a structure–agency perspective. First, it focuses centrally on how access to the labour market has been influenced by divisions and identities, through the case study of Coventry, a city that has undergone a rapid change from a manufacturing to a post-industrial city in the past two decades. Initially, the remit of the Warwick University SEQUAL research was to focus on class and gender, but given the multicultural character of the city, we added ‘race’ and ethnicity, and, in practice, could not ignore the messages in relation to age, health and disability that...

    • THREE “It’s about having a life, isn’t it?”: employability, discrimination and disabled people
      (pp. 27-42)
      Debby Watson, Val Williams and Claire Wickham

      This chapter discusses access to employment for those deemed ‘disabled’. Lessons learnt from the situation of Deaf¹ and disabled people raise questions about how best to achieve an inclusive employment sector, and therefore have general implications for employment policy. The issues for Deaf and disabled people also lead to questions about the nature of ‘work’, empowerment and participation, and about ways of creating greater flexibility and job satisfaction. Work and employment are all part of “having a life”, as one disabled person put it, which is relevant for anyone, disabled or non-disabled.

      The starting point for this chapter is that...

    • FOUR Between work and tradition: minority ethnic women in North West England
      (pp. 43-58)
      Stuart Speeden

      This chapter takes as its central focus the relationship between minority ethnic women and employment in North West England. In terms of labour market activity, this group represents one of the least active sections of the population and therefore one of the greatest challenges to current initiatives to increase workforce participation. The analysis presented here is based on case studies constructed from interviews with project staff across a number of community projects in North West England and West Yorkshire.

      The purpose of the SEQUAL research was to explore ‘promising practices’ that were being applied through the community and voluntary sector...

    • FIVE Discrimination and geographical exclusion: a case study of North West Wales
      (pp. 59-72)
      Brec’hed Piette and Rhian McCarthy

      The main argument in this chapter is that geography intensifies employment disadvantage, particularly for those who also experience other forms of exclusion and discrimination in the labour market related to, for instance, disability, or age. To evidence this claim, we will be drawing on SEQUAL research carried out in 2003–04 in North West Wales, a remote and largely rural area with a long history of poor employment prospects and significant poverty (Cloke et al, 1997). In many ways, the problems are similar to those of other rural areas in Britain such as South West England and Cumbria, and indeed...

    • SIX Out of the picture? Sexual orientation and labour market discrimination
      (pp. 73-86)
      Anne Bellis, Teresa Cairns and Susan McGrath

      Labour market discrimination linked to sexual orientation has received little attention by researchers and not much is known about the labour market experiences of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. There is no question about sexual orientation in the national Census and the collection of such information would anyway be problematic because of fears about the consequences of self-identification (Stonewall Cymru, 2004). Gay rights campaigning groups claim this lack of a research base has contributed to the marginalisation of sexual orientation within the equalities policy framework that from the 1970s onwards has focused on issues of gender, ‘race’ and...

    • SEVEN Youth discrimination and labour market access: from transitions to capabilities?
      (pp. 87-100)
      Mick Carpenter and Belinda Freda

      This chapter reviews young people’s experience of the labour market, drawing on research for the SEQUAL project into a small group of Connexions clients. It explores their understandings and priorities, and then links this to wider evidence of labour market processes that impact on young people. A key feature of this is the way in which young people are socially constructed as being problematic and not just as having problems, which needs some prior discussion.

      The SEQUAL research was conducted before significant measures to combat age discrimination in employment came into force as a result of the 2006 Employment Equality...

    • EIGHT Employability in the third age: a qualitative study of older people in the Glasgow labour market
      (pp. 101-114)
      Pamela Clayton

      This chapter, like the preceding one on youth, focuses on equality issues related to age. It proceeds by first highlighting the significance of age discrimination in the context of it often being considered socially less important than racism, sexism or other forms of oppression. It is argued that the concept of the ‘third age’ is potentially a basis from which to challenge age oppression, as long as diversity issues are taken into account. Recent trends in discrimination and human rights policies and their benefits and limitations for older people are then reviewed, before the chapter focuses centrally on the SEQUAL...

    • NINE Refugees and the labour market: refugee sector practice in the ‘employability’ paradigm
      (pp. 115-130)
      Azar Sheibani

      This chapter examines the refugee sector’s role in facilitating refugee entry into the labour market in the UK and the barriers faced by refugees in an environment dominated by tightening borders, tough legislation and policies, the current ‘employability’ model, employers’ prejudice and discrimination and general hostility towards refugees and asylum seekers. The aim is to examine how practice at agency level could be influenced by and can influence policy and how a global understanding of refugee issues can affect the way refugees are treated at local level. This is of particular significance in a European context since the strength of...

  7. Part Two: Implications for wider policies

    • TEN Origins and effects of New Labour’s workfare state: modernisation or variations on old themes?
      (pp. 133-158)
      Mick Carpenter and Stuart Speeden

      This chapter and Chapter Eleven move on from local case studies and specific forms of disadvantage to a more general analysis, drawing on the ‘lessons’ of the case studies and wider available evidence. This chapter is primarily concerned with a review and critical assessment of economic and social policies towards the workfare state up to and since 1997 under New Labour. Chapter Eleven then develops a discussion of policy alternatives beyond it, connecting them to emerging campaigns to combat forms of discrimination and to promote equalities and human rights.

      Disputing first the idea that New Labour’s welfare policy is entirely...

    • ELEVEN Capabilities, human rights and the challenge to workfare
      (pp. 159-184)
      Mick Carpenter, Stuart Speeden, Colin Griffin and Nick Walters

      This chapter builds on the critical appraisal of New Labour’s labour market and social policies in Chapter Ten to point to possible futures ‘beyond the workfare state’. It explores the kinds of measures that might be taken, involving more concerted efforts to tackle exclusion and disadvantage in genuinely empowering ways, to overcome the plateau effects occurring after 10 years of New Labour’s work-first approaches.

      The grounds for criticising this approach are, in part, social scientific, in that a greater awareness that the causes of unemployment and worklessness are due to the complex interplay of (social) structure and (personal) agency is...

  8. Index
    (pp. 185-192)