Magnus Paulsen Hansen – in conversation with Fiona Dukelow and Michael McGann – March 25th – 10:00 GMT
In 2019, I published a book (The moral economy of activation) on justification of activation reforms in Denmark and France. The book used concepts from the French pragmatic sociology of Boltanski and Thévenot to build a mapping of various ‘cities of unemployment’ used to evaluate existing policies and to justify, as well as criticize, reforms. In my talk I will briefly present the framework and what insights it may shed light on at the level of public debate, at local level of public employment services, and, at a more speculative level, how to approach think about (un)employment in and after the pandemic. – Magnus
Magnus Paulsen Hansen (above) Roskilde University.
Fiona Dukelow (above) University College Cork.
Michael McGann (above) Maynooth University.
Each seminar was recorded and featured one or more readings, please find these below.
Click here to view the recording.
Magnus began his presentation by stating that he had a number of different aims with his book: to take morality seriously; to take the public debates around welfare seriously; and to explore and examine why there has been a turn to punishment of the unemployed in the recent past. Magnus found that the answers to these questions had to do with justification. If you cannot justify sanctions or other active labour market policies – then you cannot have strong welfare activation policies.
Magnus has found that many of the contemporary justifications for welfare reform are analogous to chemotherapy – we must ‘cure’ the unemployed at any cost. With this we get a proliferation of activation techniques which are focused on getting the unemployed back to work – by any means necessary. This takes the form of a delicate moral economy which all participants (from caseworker to unemployed) are constantly (re)negotiating.
Predominately Magnus calls attention to the latter 4 of the ‘cities’ in the above table. That is to say that many States have adopted strategies of incentivising the unemployed; a paternalistic governing of the unemployed; investment in the unemployed; or modifying the activities of the unemployed. All four of these perspectives see the unemployed individual as at fault for their situation, and in need of some kind of intervention or change such that they will be able to get a job. At the end of the talk Magnus, Fiona and Michael elegantly returned us to where we started – by pointing out that none of these would be possible without the complex web of justifications which bind unemployment to its moral roots.
Previous seminar: Ray Griffin & Tom Boland – The Reformation of Welfare.
Next seminar: Theresa O’Keefe, Aline Courtois & Teresa Crew – Precarity.