Shifts in the Governing Strategies of the Unemployed

By Pendo Mwaiteleke.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The governance of Australia’s unemployed populations has undergone significant shifts over the last two decades, gaining greater momentum during the Howard era, whereby the cultivation of active participation practices became linked to conditions for access to the income support system. Governmentalist theorists suggest the importance of paying attention to governing technologies engaged in re-orienting actions of individuals, associations and institutions, in keeping with political objectives within advanced liberal societies. This paper discusses recent shifts in technologies of government regulating employment assistance programs following the introduction of inclusion policies under the Rudd-Gillard government. Specifically, it looks at continuities and discontinuities in technologies of client classification, involved in determining the nature and level of employment support that each unemployed person may receive. It highlights shifts in classification practices aligning and regulating delivery of employment assistance under the new Job Services Australia programs. The paper further looks at disciplinary technologies promoting participation in active society as a condition in maintaining access to income support system. In this context, it highlights continuities and discontinuities in the use of activity agreements and breaching practices characterizing the design of the new Job Services Australia. I argue that under the reformed employment assistance programs, we see some weakening and displacement of particular neo-liberal governing strategies. At the same time, the article highlights particular continuities fostering an active society. I then conclude with the need for social policy proponents to pay more attention to the fruitful nature of the Foucauldian notions of technologies and techniques of government in analysing policy dynamics.

Keywords: Labour Market Programs, Disciplinary Technologies of Government, Governmentality, Neo-Liberalism, Third Way, Unemployment Policy, Active Society

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 6, Issue 10, pp.177-190. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 816.233KB).

Dr. Pendo Mwaiteleke

Lecturer, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, Perth, WA, Australia

Dr. Pendo Mwaiteleke is a Lecturer in Social Work & Social Policy at Curtin University where she has taught over the last 12 years. She holds degrees in Bachelor of Social Work (Curtin); Postgrad Dip Soc Welfare (Curtin); MA in Public Policy (Murdoch) and PhD (Murdoch). She also has extensive practice experience in policy development, advocacy, community work, and case-management. She previously worked with government and the non-government sectors for 10 years prior to joining academia. Pendo is also the immediate past Women’s Chair for the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia. She is also a mother of twin girls.


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