Activation Policy in the Czech Republic: A Failing Tool to Fight Poverty and Social Exclusion

Barbora Gřundělová

Barbora Gřundělová is an assistant professor at the Department of Social Work, Faculty of Social Studies. She has a master’s degree in Public Policy and Human Resources and PhD in Social Work. Her research focuses on the family social work. In her publications, she deals with the gender perceptions and stereotypes in social work practices, the gendered constructions of women and men as clients, and the gender competence of social workers.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this article is to investigate participants’ experiential knowledge about implementation of activation policy in the context of Czech employment policy and to find out to what extent activation policy has proved to be a tool for combating poverty and social exclusion. THEORETICAL BASE: The paper is theoretically based on street-level bureaucracy, microinstitutionalist theory, and advanced marginality. METHODS: This article is based on qualitative research of the implementation of activation policy in selected branches of the Labour Office of the Czech Republic. The data include in-depth interviews with clients registered at labour offices and interviews with clients’ social workers. OUTCOMES: It is concluded that jobseekers’ responses to the implementation of the current work-first activation policy reflect survival strategies and are rooted in ethnic, gender, and class-based inequalities in neoliberal societies. SOCIAL WORK IMPLICATIONS: Long-term unemployed need comprehensive support to overcome their social disadvantages. The activation policies must be based on social services in order to be labelled as inclusive. This is especially true for integrating groups with complex social problems in the labour market.

activation policies, work-first, social exclusion, poverty, employment policy

p. 36-53

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