IDS Bulletin Vol. 29 Nos. 1

Beyond Workfare: Active Labour?Market Policies

Published on 1 January 1998

Summary Approaches to labour?market policy and to workfare are conditioned by different perspectives on the causes of and prospects for unemployment and social exclusion. There appears to be a high level of correlation between advocates of workfare and those who use terms like the ‘culture of dependency’ and the ‘underclass’. At this end of the debate, assumptions about the values and behaviour of people who are unemployed or who are lone parents lead to a belief that compulsion is necessary to break that behaviour and change those values. Advocates of active labour?market policy might be more uncomfortable with assumptions that the values and behaviour of these groups are different from those of mainstream society. For them, there are constraints and incentives which affect everyone, and the policy issues relate to relaxing those constraints and changing those incentives. The Labour Government reflects the tensions between these two broad approaches. Some senior ministers are happy to talk about the ‘underclass’ and welfare dependency. Others stress the vital need for further growth in regular employment as the fundamental pre?requisite for any work or training programme to succeed.

Cite this publication

Robinson, P. (1998) Beyond Workfare: Active Labour?Market Policies. IDS Bulletin 29(1): 86-93

Publication details

published by
Institute of Development Studies
Robinson, Peter


Related content