Article | Open Access
Policing Norwegian Welfare: Disciplining and Differentiating within the Bottom Rungs
Abstract: Policing is a disciplining means for using welfare services to govern welfare recipients towards a desired behaviour or goal. We apply Foucault’s (1977) definition of institutional discipline as a means for exploring how the distinctions made by state and local welfare authorities in Norway when policing recipients may take shape according to normative perceptions of ethnicity and deservingness. More particularly, we explore the regulating understandings and activities linked to the inclusion and exclusion of eligibility to welfare benefits and services and the form of the services offered. Our focus lies at the point of entry from the lowest tier of Norwegian welfare benefits (social assistance) into two semi-parallel and higher tiers promising more (higher benefits, better services). The tiers are represented by programmes that share aims, yet differ in reach: the 2004 Introduction Programme and the 2007 Qualification Programme. The Introduction Programme is an activation programme targeted at immigrants and refugees newly arrived to Norway. Its aim is to strengthen opportunities to participate in society and labour market, as well as to promote economic independence. The Qualification Programme is an activation programme that was explicitly modelled after the Introduction Programme, yet whose target group reaches more broadly to include long-term recipients of social assistance and those whose work ability is severely lowered. While both programmes have been premised on the need to transform participants from a status of passive welfare benefit recipients to active participants in qualifying measures and society, the target groups vary and it is this contrast that is our point of focus. We contrast the two policies at two ‘moments’ in the policy cycle: (1) policy framing (public and policymaker understandings/assumptions concerning the target group, the location of accountability for the marginal position of the policy recipient and the policy’s political/social goals); and (2) the shaping and formative structure of these policies (how the relevant policies came into existence and what they look like).
Keywords: activation; discipline; ethnification; Introduction Programme; Qualification Programme; Norwegian welfare state; social assistance
Issue: Vol 2, No 3 (2014): Policing Ethnicity: Between the Rhetoric of Inclusion and the Policies and Practices of Exclusion
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