All work and no pay – the rise of workfare
Complexity thinking and evolutionary economic geography R Martin, P Sunley Journal of economic geography 7 5 , , On the notion of regional economic resilience: conceptualization and explanation R Martin, P Sunley Journal of Economic Geography 15 1 , , Conceptualizing cluster evolution: beyond the life cycle model? R Martin, P Sunley Regional studies 45 10 , , Relational economic geography: a partial understanding or a new paradigm? P Sunley Economic geography 84 1 , , R Martin, P Sunley Antipode 33 2 , , The place of path dependence in an evolutionary perspective on the economic landscape R Martin, P Sunley Edward Elgar , Venture capital programmes in the UK and Germany: In what sense regional policies?
Towards a developmental turn in evolutionary economic geography?
The move towards workfare policies represents a fundamental change in the welfare states and labour markets of many industrialised countries. Such a shift represents a process of activation in which the receipt of benefits and assistance by the unemployed are made conditional on the active fulfilment of job search and other work-focused obligations. Across the industrial world, politicians are identifying such policies as the solution to the entrenched problems of worklessness that have plagued their economies during the last few decades.
Buoyed by favourable national economic conditions since , this flagship New Deal Programme has been held up as a model to be emulated. While it has received much abstract and aggregate attention, and it has officially been declared a success, there has been relatively little research into the uneven geography of this Programme and the other New Deals. The aim of this ESRC-funded research project Grant R , undertaken jointly with Professor Peter Sunley Southampton is to explore and understand how these active policies have had quite different challenges and impacts in different local and regional labour markets.
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How far have local flexibility and policy decentralisation allowed the New Deal to address dramatic differences in local labour market contexts? Despite the complexity of local outcomes, our research argues that the spatial variation in the New Deal tells a clear and systematic story in which the policy typically works more effectively in more dynamic and tighter local labour markets. The geography of non-work is not a problem that has been virtually eliminated.
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Instead, the limitations and imbalance ofsupply-side active labour market policies, focused on raising individual employability, are most apparent in distressed local labour where there is less opportunity to find rewarding and stable job opportunities. Our research discusses some of the implications of this finding for the idea of a new contract between unemployed individuals and the state.
Related Putting Workfare in Place: Local Labour Markets and the New Deal
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