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Welfare to Work in Contemporary European Welfare StatesLegal, Sociological and Philosophical Perspectives on Justice and Domination$
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Anja Eleveld, Thomas Kampen, and Josien Arts

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781447340010

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447340010.001.0001

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Left in limbo: social assistance recipients’ evolving views on the fairness of workfare volunteerism

Left in limbo: social assistance recipients’ evolving views on the fairness of workfare volunteerism

Chapter:
(p.237) 11 Left in limbo: social assistance recipients’ evolving views on the fairness of workfare volunteerism
Source:
Welfare to Work in Contemporary European Welfare States
Author(s):

Thomas Kampen

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781447340010.003.0011

This chapter focuses on social assistance recipients’ evolving views on the fairness of being summoned to do volunteer work by Dutch local authorities. This ‘workfare volunteering’ is often considered the best alternative to – but also route towards – paid employment. Building on Nancy Fraser’s work on recognition and redistribution as well as Boltanski and Thévenot’s ‘worlds of justification’ framework, this chapter reveals how social assistance recipients’ perceptions of ‘workfare volunteering’ change over the course of their involvement as volunteers. While many social assistance recipients initially judged the obligation to do volunteer work as unfair, the meaning many found in their voluntary positions reversed their initial judgements. But over time – especially as the lack of sustained guidance left them as far away from the paid labour market as ever – they came to see workfare volunteering as deeply unfair. The chapter aims to further our theoretical and empirical understanding of social justice from the perspective of the subjects of welfare-to-work policies.

Keywords:   Workfare volunteering, Welfare, Mutual obligation, Othering, Recognition, Redistribution

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