Activation measures through the lens of governmentality

Staffan Bengtsson, Alexandru Panican, Rickard Ulmestig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article focuses on young unemployed in Sweden involved in two activation measures. Using the analytical framework of governmentality, it analyses how the participants perceive and value activation measures as government-driven intervention aimed at bringing young people into the labour market, based on a neoliberal discourse in the welfare state. The article highlights that the welfare system not only tries to promote behavioural changes, but also tries to change the way people think. At the centre of the study are the people-changing technologies embedded in the Swedish norms of a strong work ethic. The analysis underlines how these technologies are internalised and even become a part of the participant’s own free will.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalCritical and Radical Social Work - an international journal
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2022 Jul 26

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Social Work

Free keywords

  • activation
  • governmentality
  • labour market
  • neoliberal welfare state
  • work ethic


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