“From welfare to workfare” Workshop in Sociology Days

The annual conference of the Westermarck society ‘Sociology Days’ took place in Helsinki on March, 5-6. Two research projects based at the Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki: Migrant Youth Employment – Politics of Recognition and Boundaries of Belonging (RECOGNITION, 2014-2017) and the Academy of Finland project ‘Insecure Lives – Precarious Labour and Irregular Migration in Finland’ (INSECURE, 2015-2018) organised a workshop ‘From welfare to workfare – Labour and precarity in a mobile world’. The papers presented at the workshop dealt with the issues of precarious migrant employment and workfare reforms in Finland. A member of RECOGNITION project Lotta Haikkola discussed her ethnographic observations in the employment offices in the presentation “Activation on the ground – young clients, activation policies and employment offices”. Lotta’s ethnographic research on young people’s employment

Lotta Haikkola "Activation on the ground – young clients, activation policies and employment offices"

Lotta Haikkola “Activation on the ground – young clients, activation policies and employment offices”

focuses on the neoliberal reforms in Finland, transition from welfare to workfare and activation policies. Lotta showed that the main target of workfare policies is making young people “active” while misrecognising young people’s skills and providing little help in their personal educational paths. Thus, following Lisa Adkins’ comment, she concluded that unemployment and activation policies should be analysed as productive and no longer connected to getting a job in the future. Daria Krivonos in her presentation “Gendered work-citizenship insecurities: from au pair through studying to work” talked about a precarious gendered migrant path of an au pair-student-worker produced by immigration controls. She showed that immigration controls and insecure migrant status channel young female Russian-speaking migrants to precarious work and employment however unappealing it can be for the sake of continuing residency in Finland.  The workshop has shown that there are several researchers working on a similar topic that generated a fruitful discussion at the workshop and created space for further cooperation.