street level bureaucracy research conference

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesWorkshop


Thorsten Braun, Anders Bøggild Christensen
Research center for social pedagogy and social work, VIA University College, Aarhus.
Abstract title: Implementation of the Reform of Social assistance at Jobcenters in Denmark.
Danish politicians have in recent years imposed several huge reforms in the employment policy field. The Thorning-government has themselves launched it as a “reform amok”. There have been several harsh reforms on unemployment security, social assistance, early retirement, pensions and to a lesser extent sickness benefit (Caswell; Dall; Madsen 2015). The general aim has been to increase labour supply and to lower expenses though tendencies of a social investment strategy is also a part. All reforms have left jobcenters with a huge task of implementation in a short time (Goul Andersen 2013).
One of the much debated reforms is on social assistance which is characterized as a kind of “pendulum swing” in active labour market policy from a disciplining and harsh “work first” approach to an approach more in line with a human capital and social investment approach (Caswell; Dall; Madsen 2015). The 2014 reform came with new inventions and is implemented at the local jobcenters. There are new categories of recipients with accordingly different rights and duties. This pilot study explores and compares two jobcenters and the street level professionals handling of young social assistance recipients below 30 years old. In this pilot study we will direct our attention to the following research questions: How do street-level organizations mediate policy intentions of the social assistance reform and the encounter between street-level workers and citizens/client? How are the different categories of youth social assistance recipients implemented? How are the new elements as for instance utility job (nyttejob), mentor schemes, an effective sanction system and the professional role of coordination created in practice?
The theoretical frame is focusing on the role of organizations when analyzing street-level behavior (Brodkin; Marston 2013). Street-level organizations matter in shaping street-level behavior, resulting for instance in substantial differences in the use of utility jobs and sanctions from one municipality to another (Caswell; Høybye-Mortensen 2015). We will expect both similarities and differences due to organizational arrangements.
Design: The pilot study is conducted through a comparative case-study (Andersen 2014) of two jobcenters.
Period18 Nov 2015
Event typeConference
LocationKøbenahvn, Denmark