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Activation and ‘coercion’ among Swedish social assistance claimants with different work barriers and socio-demographic characteristics: What is the logic?
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social Work.
2011 (English)In: International Journal of Social Welfare, ISSN 1369-6866, E-ISSN 1468-2397, Vol. Dec.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The study analysed how the work barriers and sociodemographic

characteristics of both activated and nonactivated

social assistance claimants influence their

participation in activation and exposure to coercion, measured

as two opposite indicators – sanctions and exemptions. The

study covered 372 social assistance claimants in four municipalities

during a period of 1 year. The results suggest that

resource activation, which entails education and/or work practice

in regular workplaces, often targets claimants who lack

work motivation, whereas job activation, which aims at quick

entry into the labour market, targets young claimants and

claimants who lack formal skills (education and/or work experience).

Swedish men older than 25 years appear to run the

highest risk of facing sanctions irrespective of participation in

activation. Exemptions vary more than sanctions between

activated and non-activated claimants. The results are discussed

in terms of five logics operating in social work.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2011. Vol. Dec.
Keyword [en]
activation, sanctions, coercion, social assistance
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-68496DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2397.2011.00858.xOAI: diva2:472677


Available from: 2012-01-04 Created: 2012-01-04 Last updated: 2012-09-19Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Aktivering av socialbidragstagare - om stöd och kontroll i socialtjänsten
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Aktivering av socialbidragstagare - om stöd och kontroll i socialtjänsten
2012 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The aim of this thesis is to examine activation, including support and control, among different groups of social assistance (SA) recipients. Assessments and activation related decisions during one year are analysed for 372 social randomly selected assistance claimants from four municipalities. Data was collected 2002-2003 through structured interviews with the clients and their social workers. Income from work and social assistance was followed up with national register data after two years.

The first study focuses on social workers conception of their claimants work barriers. Conceptions vary systematically across groups of claimants. The second study examines elements of activation, finding that extent and content of activation, and use of support and control, vary between municipalities and programs. The third study analyses associations between participation in activation programs and exposures to sanctions and exemptions (indicators of support and control) on the one hand, and claimants’ characteristics on the other hand.  Traditional work-test logic seems to be common in social work, and linked to stereotypic gender logic. This implies a systematic selection to activation based on sex, and on social workers opinion about the claimants work motivation. The results question the linkage between work barriers and activation, since claimants without formal resources (education and work experience) do not participate in resource activation (aiming to increase formal resources) more often than others. The fourth study analyses association between combinations of activation programs and sanctions and self support outcomes for SA claimants. Results suggest that a combination of resource activation and sanctions has a positive association with income from work, and that a combination of job activation and sanctions is associated with continuing SA.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Institutionen för socialt arbete - Socialhögskolan, Stockholms universitet, 2012. 91 p.
Rapport i socialt arbete, ISSN 0281-6288 ; 141
activation, workfare, welfare-to-work, sanctions, social assistance, social services, welfare
National Category
Social Work
Research subject
Social Work
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-79644 (URN)9789174475784 (ISBN)
Public defence
2012-10-26, Aula Svea, Socialhögskolan, Sveavägen 160, Stockholm, 13:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2012-10-04 Created: 2012-09-07 Last updated: 2016-05-27Bibliographically approved

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