Pligten til at arbejde: Artikulationen af en “aktiv-diskurs” i de problemer og løsninger, der udpeges i beskæftigelsesreformer i perioden 1994-2014, med særligt henblik på subjektiveringen af ledige

Ann-Sophie Knudsen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This master thesis examines the development of the danish employment policy from 1994 to 2014. In 1994 the first employment reform with focus on activation was published. It constructed a new discourse and became a part of what has been called “Flexicurity”. The danish employment policy became a role model for other countries because it more than halved the unemployment rate, secured high unemployment benefits, and made it easy to fire and hire qualified labour. But this is not the end of a danish fairytale because the unemployment policy has been reformed since and probably there is no succes without a downside. This master thesis use the discourse theories of Laclau and Foucault to investigate the issue: How an “active-discourse” is articulated in the problems and solutions that are constructed in danish employment reforms in the period from 1994 to 2014 and how it affects the subjectivation of the unemployed? The analysis shows that especially the meaning of a “right and obligation” discourse has changed. In 1994 it’s still an important part of the welfare system that benefits are granted as a right of citizen without any counterclaims. In 2002 and 2013/14 the unemployment benefits are articulated as a part of a mutual exchangement between the individual and the state. It’s a “tit for tat” logic. The reforms use an utilitarian discourse to articulate a problem with a passive system of benefits. The unemployed are therefore the ones to blame for a high unemployment rate and not the society. The discourse therefore demands some inner desires of the unemployed subject and a willingness to become more “job-ready”. The discourse not only acts upon the financial plight of the unemployed or their job prospects, but upon their attitudes which should be more active. The unemployed have to work with the self in order to fulfil the obligations from the state. These discourses and subject positions describe how the danish unemployment system has evolved and how we as a society handle our unemployed fellow citizens. The motivation in this master thesis is to make these on the surface invisible practices visible and establish a frame in which questions emerge of what kind of unemployment system we want in the future.

EducationsMSocSc in Management of Creative Business Processes , (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2015
Number of pages86