Sorting People In and Out

The Plasticity of the Categories of Employability, Work Capacity and Disability as Technologies of Government

Christina Garsten, Kerstin Jacobsson

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    The ‘employable individual’ is today a powerful normative category, saturated with assumptions about what it takes to be attractive in the labour market. What happens to people who cannot meet those expectations? For some, the way to employability and employment goes through a process of detecting and coding of disability at the Public Employment Service (PES). Based on interviews with staff at a rehabilitation unit in the Swedish Public Employment Service, the article analyses processes of evaluating work capacity for marginally employable people as part of the Employability Rehabilitation Programme. By studying the classification procedures, the article analyses how administrative categories work as ‘technologies of government’ that ‘make legible’ desirable traits in the individual. The analysis shows that employability is mediated, or enabled, by classificatory procedures that spring out of a template for what is considered acceptable and desirable individual characteristics, hence reinforcing standards of normalcy. Moreover, the categories through which the individual moves are plastic and pliable in relation to political predicates and labour market fluctuations. In this process, to be non-employable becomes a disability and conversely, to be disabled can make one employable.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEphemera: Theory & politics in organization
    Volume13
    Issue number4
    Pages (from-to)825-850
    ISSN1473-2866
    Publication statusPublished - 2013

    Cite this

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    abstract = "The ‘employable individual’ is today a powerful normative category, saturated with assumptions about what it takes to be attractive in the labour market. What happens to people who cannot meet those expectations? For some, the way to employability and employment goes through a process of detecting and coding of disability at the Public Employment Service (PES). Based on interviews with staff at a rehabilitation unit in the Swedish Public Employment Service, the article analyses processes of evaluating work capacity for marginally employable people as part of the Employability Rehabilitation Programme. By studying the classification procedures, the article analyses how administrative categories work as ‘technologies of government’ that ‘make legible’ desirable traits in the individual. The analysis shows that employability is mediated, or enabled, by classificatory procedures that spring out of a template for what is considered acceptable and desirable individual characteristics, hence reinforcing standards of normalcy. Moreover, the categories through which the individual moves are plastic and pliable in relation to political predicates and labour market fluctuations. In this process, to be non-employable becomes a disability and conversely, to be disabled can make one employable.",
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    Sorting People In and Out : The Plasticity of the Categories of Employability, Work Capacity and Disability as Technologies of Government. / Garsten, Christina; Jacobsson, Kerstin .

    In: Ephemera: Theory & politics in organization, Vol. 13, No. 4, 2013, p. 825-850.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Sorting People In and Out

    T2 - The Plasticity of the Categories of Employability, Work Capacity and Disability as Technologies of Government

    AU - Garsten, Christina

    AU - Jacobsson, Kerstin

    PY - 2013

    Y1 - 2013

    N2 - The ‘employable individual’ is today a powerful normative category, saturated with assumptions about what it takes to be attractive in the labour market. What happens to people who cannot meet those expectations? For some, the way to employability and employment goes through a process of detecting and coding of disability at the Public Employment Service (PES). Based on interviews with staff at a rehabilitation unit in the Swedish Public Employment Service, the article analyses processes of evaluating work capacity for marginally employable people as part of the Employability Rehabilitation Programme. By studying the classification procedures, the article analyses how administrative categories work as ‘technologies of government’ that ‘make legible’ desirable traits in the individual. The analysis shows that employability is mediated, or enabled, by classificatory procedures that spring out of a template for what is considered acceptable and desirable individual characteristics, hence reinforcing standards of normalcy. Moreover, the categories through which the individual moves are plastic and pliable in relation to political predicates and labour market fluctuations. In this process, to be non-employable becomes a disability and conversely, to be disabled can make one employable.

    AB - The ‘employable individual’ is today a powerful normative category, saturated with assumptions about what it takes to be attractive in the labour market. What happens to people who cannot meet those expectations? For some, the way to employability and employment goes through a process of detecting and coding of disability at the Public Employment Service (PES). Based on interviews with staff at a rehabilitation unit in the Swedish Public Employment Service, the article analyses processes of evaluating work capacity for marginally employable people as part of the Employability Rehabilitation Programme. By studying the classification procedures, the article analyses how administrative categories work as ‘technologies of government’ that ‘make legible’ desirable traits in the individual. The analysis shows that employability is mediated, or enabled, by classificatory procedures that spring out of a template for what is considered acceptable and desirable individual characteristics, hence reinforcing standards of normalcy. Moreover, the categories through which the individual moves are plastic and pliable in relation to political predicates and labour market fluctuations. In this process, to be non-employable becomes a disability and conversely, to be disabled can make one employable.

    KW - Employability

    KW - Classification

    KW - Disability

    KW - Public sector

    M3 - Journal article

    VL - 13

    SP - 825

    EP - 850

    JO - Ephemera: Theory & politics in organization

    JF - Ephemera: Theory & politics in organization

    SN - 1473-2866

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    ER -