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Making it personal

Making it personal: Individualising activation services in the EU

Rik van Berkel
Ben Valkenburg
Copyright Date: 2007
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  • Book Info
    Making it personal
    Book Description:

    Public social services are increasingly being individualised in order to better meet the differentiated needs of competent and independent citizens and to promote the effectiveness of social interventions. This book addresses this development, focusing on a new type of social services that has become crucial in the 'modernisation' of welfare states: activation services. The book discusses and analyses the individualisation of activation services against the background of social policy reforms on the one hand, and the introduction of new forms of public governance on the other. Critically discussing the rise of individualised social services in the light of various theoretical points of view, it analyses the way in which activation and the 'active subject' are presented in EU discourse. It compares the introduction of individualised activation services in five EU welfare states: the UK, Germany, Italy, Finland and the Czech Republic, focusing on official policies as well as policy practices. The book provides original insights into the phenomenon of the individualised provision of activation services. It is useful reading for policy makers as well as for students and researchers of welfare states, social policies and public governance.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-231-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iv)
  3. List of figures and tables
    (pp. v-vi)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Rik van Berkel and Ben Valkenburg
  5. Notes on contributors
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  6. Introduction

    • ONE The individualisation of activation services in context
      (pp. 3-22)
      Rik van Berkel and Ben Valkenburg

      This book explores a phenomenon that is increasingly turning into a core feature of the provision of social services: individualisation. Put in very general terms, individualisation of social service provision means that services should be adjusted to individual circumstances in order to increase their effectiveness. It is an attempt to put ‘one-size-fits-all’ approaches in the provision of social services in the past, and to promote tailor-made or personalised services — concepts that are usually treated as synonyms of individualised services. Of course, this ‘definition’ remains rather vague and imprecise. It says little about what individualised social interventions and services look like,...

  7. Part One: Theoretical perspectives on individualised activation services

    • TWO Individualising activation services: thrashing out an ambiguous concept
      (pp. 25-44)
      Ben Valkenburg

      Social policy almost by definition has to deal with the complex relations between general policies and the political process on the one hand, and individual people and their everyday lives on the other. We define problems and policies associalif they affect large groups of people. Social policies therefore are developed on a general, political level. They ‘speak’ in general terms (participation, employment, integration), ‘address’ large groups of people (the excluded, unemployed, migrants) and ‘deal’ with the redistribution of collective resources (money, the institutions of the welfare state). At the same time, social policy is aimed at individual people...

    • THREE A capability approach to individualised and tailor-made activation
      (pp. 45-66)
      Jean-Michel Bonvin and Nicolas Farvaque

      For a couple of decades, employment and social integration policies have undergone significant transformations. In order to grasp the theoretical and practical meaning of these evolutions, new analytical tools and normative frameworks are needed. This is the very task that we pursue in this chapter. In the first section, the main evolutions are identified as well as their consequences in terms of analytical tools. Indeed, the contemporary transformations imply that the key locus of social policies is the local agency where the beneficiaries are assessed (as to the legitimacy of their claim, their degree of employability, and so on) and...

    • FOUR Placing the individual ‘at the forefront’: Beck and individual approaches in activation
      (pp. 67-86)
      Håkan Johansson

      The German sociologist Ulrich Beck has provided us with a broad analytical framework for how to understandindividualisationas a general sociological process. Drawing on his risk society thesis, he emphasises that contemporary societies might provide individuals with new forms of opportunities, but also a new set of risks and insecurities. Due to modern industrial society’s transformation into a risk society, each individual faces a situation in which they have to deal with risks such as environmental pollution, contamination of food and human and animal diseases, as well as social problems like unemployment or family breakdown. It appears as if...

    • FIVE User involvement in personal social services
      (pp. 87-104)
      Ilse Julkunen and Matti Heikkilä

      Focusing on the user in the welfare service sector has been emphasised since the 1990s. Governments throughout Western Europe have encouraged users to contribute to the planning and development of social and health services (Crawford et al,2005). There is also a growing user movement dedicated to promoting rights-based access to social care and a changing role for human services users (Fisher,2002). Interest in service user perspectives and participation still appears to be episodic, however. In the 1970s service user studies were linked to the growing claims of enhancing the public sector (see Chapter Two). Social commitments had increased as well...

  8. Part Two: Individualising activation services:: Case studies

    • SIX Political production of individualised subjects in the paradoxical discourse of the EU institutions
      (pp. 107-126)
      Eduardo Crespo Suárez and Amparo Serrano Pascual

      The social policy strategies pursued by the national governments in Europe are inspired, to a considerable extent, by proposals issued by the supranational institutions of the European Union (EU). Analyses of the employment strategy drawn up by the European institutions have been presented in various studies (Goetschy, 1999, 2003; de la Porte and Pochet, 2003; Foden and Magnusson, 2003; Mósesdóttir, 2003; Barbier, 2004; Crespo Suárez and Serrano Pascual, 2004). The purpose of this chapter is to examine certain structural features of the European social policy discourse and, more specifically, the discursive production of individualised subjects in its use of the...

    • SEVEN Reforming the public sector: personalised activation services in the UK
      (pp. 127-148)
      Bruce Stafford and Karen Kellard

      The Labour government since its election in 1997 has sought to tackle poverty and social exclusion in the UK and ensure that the UK is competitive in the global economy by virtue of a skilled and flexible labour force. It has introduced a number of policies, including active labour market programmes, which promote work as the best means of reducing poverty and social exclusion. The design of these programmes has changed over time, and this chapter discusses the degree to which the delivery of welfare and employment services is being made more personalised.¹ These trends will be illustrated by the...

    • EIGHT Between universal policy and individualised practice: analysing activation policy in Finland
      (pp. 149-168)
      Elsa Keskitalo

      During the 1990s, Finland underwent considerable changes in the labour market and the social protection system. These changes brought increased uncertainty and individualisation of risk in the labour market, and a shift towards activation in social protection. Due to economic recession and difficulties in the state economy, cutbacks were introduced throughout the social security system in the early 1990s (Heikkilä and Uusitalo, 1997). These circumstances in part paved the way for the social policy reforms to follow. Even though the economy has recovered thereafter, unemployment has remained high on the political agenda (Kalela et al, 2001).

      Since the mid-1990s, the...

    • NINE Do we know where we are going? Active policies and individualisation in the Italian context
      (pp. 169-192)
      Vando Borghi

      The processes of socioeconomic and demographic transformation affecting European countries since the 1970s brought about the need foractivewelfare states and increasinglyindividualisedsocial policies. Although this need seems to be the same in all European countries, embedded in a common social discourse supported by national and transnational institutions and organisations, it leads to different concrete transformations and restructuring of the former welfare systems (Borghi, 2005; Borghi and Van Berkel, forthcoming: 2007).

      Looking at the Italian context, one may — even though it is difficult to identify really individually tailored measures and schemes (see below) — observe some easily recognisable (institutional)...

    • TEN The individual approach in activation policy in the Czech Republic
      (pp. 193-216)
      Tomáš Sirovátka

      The ‘Active Welfare State’ concept (Giddens, 1998) has become the guiding principle of the welfare state’s paradigmatic change, with ‘activation goals’ permeating ever deeper through all its domains. The change is explicit particularly in the European Employment Strategy (EES), although the meaning of ‘activation’ may be understood differently (see Chapter Two, this volume). The above-mentioned paradigmatic change within the welfare state is, however, not as yet reflected in the post-communist countries, where more converse tendencies can be seen. On the one hand, the social changes under way in these countries include ‘activation’ of citizens and generate the need for activation...

    • ELEVEN Rushing towards employability-centred activation: the ‘Hartz reforms’ in Germany
      (pp. 217-242)
      Dirk Jacobi and Katrin Mohr

      A common feature of reform processes and discourse throughout Europe since the mid-1990s has been the shift from ‘passive’ towards ‘active’ policies for unemployed people. While in some countries the move towards activation implies the introduction of a comprehensive framework of active labour market policy, others have long-standing traditions in this respect. Germany belongs to the latter group, having a tradition of providing unemployed people with benefits, as well as offering measures to enhance individual employment prospects.¹ However, an individual-oriented approach to active labour market policy has meant different things at different times in history. As part and parcel of...

  9. Conclusion

    • TWELVE Individualised activation services in the EU
      (pp. 245-264)
      Rik van Berkel

      In the preceding chapters attention has been paid to the rise of individualised approaches in activation, adopting a theoretical as well as an empirical point of view. As all authors have argued, the trend towards individualised service provision is not a merely ‘technical’ or ‘methodical’ issue regarding the way in which services should be delivered. Instead, it is embedded in, and part of, processes aimed at reforming social policies and their governance; which, in their turn, are taking place in order to cope with broader economic, cultural, demographic and social developments. In other words, discussing individualised activation services unavoidably raises...

  10. Index
    (pp. 265-280)