Den sjuka arbetslösheten : Svensk arbetsmarknadspolitik och dess praxis 1978-2004

Sammanfattning: The 1990s were a period of economic crisis and mass unemployment. The dissertation shows that in the labour market policy guidelines in the period 1978–2004, a dichotomy was constructed between, on the one hand, a group of unemployed described in positive terms as potentially able to gain new employment, and, on the other hand, a group – referred to in the dissertation as the Others – whose exclusion and marginalisation were seen as permanent.Unemployment has not always been defined as a social problem. The nature of the problem of unemployment has been understood and conceptu­alised differently over time. Frames of interpretation contribute to the construction and/or reproduction of categories of unemployed within the context of active Swedish labour market policies. The point of departure for the study is that the definition of social problems is a complex process of social construction. It is an active process of re(construction), in which certain problems become perceived as social problems while others are not.The flexibilisation of the labour market, and of labour market policy, is an institutional and discursive process that leads to new categorisations and otherings on the labour market. In the wake of the 1990s crisis, and of the more structural transformation of the Swedish labour market, a group of long-term unemployed has emerged. In the official guidelines of the labour market policy, the recommendations are to treat this group within the framework of the measures and activities that earlier applied to groups with disabilities. In this process, the structural labour market problem becomes defined politically in terms of individual disabilities. This is not only a process of individualisation, but also a process of medicalization. In this manner, unemployment, and particularly long-term unemployment, becomes analogous to disability.

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