Activation As a Field of Contention: Visions and Courter Visions of Activation in Israel

Monday, 16 July 2018: 19:30
Oral Presentation
Sara HELMAN, Sociology and Anthropology, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Beersheba, Israel
This article analyses the power struggles between different actors engaged in the politics of activation in Israel and the heterogeneity of goals and policy instruments they promoted to enhance the labour market integration of the long-term unemployed. These power struggles turned activation into a field of contention. The field of contention was composed of bureaucratic actors representing the Ministry of Finance and the Israel Employment Service and Ministry of Labour and Welfare. Within this field, actors promoted two main programs to enhance the reintegration of the long-term unemployed into the labour market. One program promoted policy instruments was underpinned by “social investment” principles, while the other was premised on “workfarist” logic. The Ministry of Finance capitalized on its power to mobilize resources, strategies, and tactics to assemble a coalition around the workfarist program. The compromise reached by the coalition was a fragile one, and did not mitigate conflicts over activation. The conceptualization of activation as a field of contention reveals the messy actualities of the politics that surround neo-liberalist projects and the fact that the compromises on which they are based open them anew to resistance and contestation.