Assessing Ireland’s Pathways to Work : The impact of behavioural conditionality and sanctions

Doyle, Kenny (2022) Assessing Ireland’s Pathways to Work : The impact of behavioural conditionality and sanctions. Doctoral thesis, SETU Waterford.

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This thesis examines the lived experience of being unemployed in Ireland during the roll out of a range of new Active Welfare Policy measures introduced in 2012 as part of the Pathways to Work (PTW) scheme. Unemployment is not a naturally occurring phenomenon and instead is a political, institutional and governmental creation. There is a particular focus on how the introduction of more stringent measures of behavioural conditionality enforced by the threat of sanctions influences the experience of being unemployed. This work examines emergent practices of the use of sanctions as a means of eliciting job seeking behaviours. As such welfare policy under PTW justifies itself using punitive logics which individualise responsibility for unemployment and sees unemployed people as being in need of guidance into employment using an array of positive and negative incentives. The way in which unemployment and unemployed people are characterised is examined at length using the theoretical construct of the Active Welfare Imaginary. Theoretically speaking this thesis uses the governmentality paradigm as described initially by Foucault (2007) to examine the ways in which unemployed people are enjoined to become active job-seekers. In practice this happens through a variety of institutional and bureaucratic practices which range from filling out forms to group engagement sessions to one on one meetings with caseworkers. In order to gain a rich understanding of the experience of being governed as an unemployed person this research used semi-structured in depth qualitative interviews with 33 participants as its main method. Where possible, repeat interviews were carried out in an attempt to capture how attitudes evolved throughout the process of engaging with the unemployment services. This research captures the ways in which the experience of being unemployed under PTW involves being drawn into a system of close regulation which engenders a series of process pains (Feely 1979) where unemployed people lose many aspects of their agency and self-determination.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Employment in Ireland
Departments or Groups: *NONE OF THESE*
Divisions: School of Humanities > Department of Applied Arts
Depositing User: Derek Langford
Date Deposited: 14 Sep 2022 14:03
Last Modified: 14 Sep 2022 14:03

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