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Call for Abstracts: Special Issue Journal of European Social Policy

    We are delighted to draw your attention to a call for abstracts for a special issue of the Journal of European Social Policy on “Active social policy and labour market integration in the digital era” 

    Guest editors: Didier Demazière (Sciences Po Paris), Minna van Gerven (University of Helsinki), Magnus Paulsen Hansen (Roskilde University), Stefano Sacchi (Polytechnic University of Turin)

    This special issue aims to shed light on how digitalisation (including e-government, digital welfare and services and data-driven decision-making) is affecting labour market integration policies and services, as well as the nature and pervasiveness of this impact on their various components. These include the work of frontline professionals, the relational component of the service, (in)equalities of treatment, and more broadly, the symbolic and political status of social protection and welfare in the digitalisation process. In particular, we want to elicit and select contributions linking theoretical and empirical approaches that are related to the changes brought about by digitalisation at the institutional, organisational, and normative level of active social and labour market policies and integration.

    The special issue is particularly focused in empirical studies on the following issues:

    • As digitalisation certainly gives rise to changes in both the management and the delivery of benefits and services, does it strengthen pre-existing organisational arrangements and practices, or does it drive an explicit redefinition of the identity and core values that characterise active social policies and labour market integration?
    • More fundamentally, does digitalisation affect the core values and functions of the welfare state, equality, inclusion and social protection? Or does it accommodate deeper societal transformation, led by the values and norms associated with austerity (Allhutter et al. 2020)? What potential do digital technologies have to disrupt not only the basic solidarity and trust at the core of the welfare state, but also the social contract it underpins (Iversen & Rehm 2022)?
    • How does digitalisation transform the role, tasks and professional identities of street-level bureaucrats?
    • What are the ‘administrative burdens’ on users of digitalized public services (Larsson, 2022; Madsen et al., 2022) and what are the consequences (in terms of, for example, the autonomy and discretion of public service) for relations with front-line professionals?
    • What impact does digitalisation have on universality of access and potential discrimination against users? Does it entail wider and easier access to public service, improving social rights and equality? Or does it give rise to systematic bias, unequal treatment of citizens, and discriminatory impacts?
    • What are the effects of digitalisation on the most vulnerable and the low skilled? Is there a risk of a ‘Matthew effect’ in accessing and using ALMP, which may disproportionately benefit those already more likely to be re-employed to the detriment of those who need it most (Bonoli & Liechti, 2018)?
    • The digital divide concerns access to the internet and connected devices, as well as user skills and application proficiency (Hargittai, 2002; Helsper, 2021). In widening this digital divide, does digitalisation of welfare services also exacerbate the social divide?

    The special issue invites papers addressing any of these questions from different theoretical and methodological perspectives, covering empirical cases across and beyond Europe. Submitted papers should be in line with the JESP’s aims and scope and should contribute to understanding and knowledge in the field. Scholarly papers which integrate innovative theoretical insights and rigorous empirical analysis are particularly welcome, as well as those which use or develop new methodological approaches. Cross-national comparative papers are expected, but single case studies can be accepted if they make a strong theoretical contribution of relevance to the international social policy community.

    Further Details:

    Abstracts must be submitted to JESP by 1 August 2023.

    Abstracts should be max 1,500 words in length (excluding references). They should include the main research question(s), the contribution to the literature, the research design and methods used, and its salient results. They should be submitted as an email attachment to

    To read more about this call, please click here.

    Please consult JESP aims and scope here.