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New Welfare, New Policies: Towards Preventive Worker-Directed Active Labour-Market Policies

  • Rik van Berkel (a1) and Paul van der Aa (a2)


Debates about the new welfare, and the new social policies that go (or should go) with it, share an emphasis on risk-prevention strategies and pluralistic risk management. Focusing specifically on the risk of unemployment, this article discusses the case for so-called preventive worker-directed active labour market policies as part of the new welfare architecture. These policies are aimed at preventing unemployment and promoting labour-market transitions and employability. They involve responsibilities on the part of the state, social partners and employers. First, the case for these policies is elaborated by analysing the social investment, flexicurity and transitional labour-market literature. In this context, several issues related to the feasibility of the pluralistic management of preventing unemployment, as well as the possible impact of pluralistic risk management on dualisation, are discussed. Secondly, recent policy initiatives in the Netherlands are presented as an illustration of the incremental emergence of preventive worker-directed active labour-market policies. It is argued that although these policy initiatives were initially introduced as responses to the crisis, they may eventually turn out to reflect a more fundamental reorientation in managing and dealing with the risks of unemployment. The conclusion critically reflects and argues that pluralistic risk management may exacerbate, rather than mitigate, the insecurities of flexible and non-standard workers.



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Journal of Social Policy
  • ISSN: 0047-2794
  • EISSN: 1469-7823
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