188.1 Constructing the self-responsible welfare recipient by law – biographies and everyday life after the German welfare reform

Wednesday, August 1, 2012: 2:30 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Andreas HIRSELAND , Erwerbslosigkeit und Teilhabe, Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung, Nuremberg, Germany
Germany’s welfare paradigm has undergone a severe change during the past decades, having had its peak so far by establishing the new Social Code II for long-term unemployed in 2005. Stressing the notion of self-responsibility and employability welfare recipients are no longer seen as ‘victims’ of social and labour-market risks. This perspective is the result of a shift in the attribution of risks and its consequences from politics and society towards the individual – in theory as well as in the public discourse. The main task of social policy programs addressing long-term unemployed is no longer seen in compensating market failures but in activating the individuals. By this social policy is not only a means to an end in terms of welfare. Moreover – following e.g. Foucault – it has become part of those powerful social technologies aiming at (re)shaping the subject in order to foster ‘governmentality’.

On this background we will give a short analysis of German Social Code II as a means to feature and “produce” a new mode of subjectivity of the welfare recipient, especially focusing on the practice of contractualization as a means to attribute (self-)responsibility. We will refer to data gained from qualitative panel research on welfare recipients from 2007 until 2011. The results give evidence that the implementation of ‘new welfare’ not only encompasses an institutional change but also aims at people’s self-concepts, biographical orientations and everyday lives.