Resisting Marginalization: Unemployment Experience and Social Policy in the European Union

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This book breaks new ground by bringing together recent research into the determinants of marginalization risks for the unemployed and research into new social policies for combating marginalization. It examines the major controversies about how far entrapment in unemployment is due to resource constraints, motivational problems, or skill deficiency. It examines the forms that new policies have taken, the way they vary between EU countries, and the effects they have had on the life experiences of the unemployed. Its central concern is how far the new policies developed in the 1990s, in particular the spread of activation and welfare-to-work policies, address the major sources of vulnerability of the unemployed. The chapters draw on the results of a number of major comparative research programmes funded by the European Commission. These provide for the first time rigorous comparative data across a range of different countries. They bring together the insights of researchers from different disciplines: economists, jurists, social-psychologists, and social policy analysts. The book shows that while the new policy initiatives helped to mitigate the severity of the experience of unemployment, they were far from providing an adequate response to the underlying factors that put people at risk of marginalization. These were primarily due to skill deficiencies that were rooted in disadvantages that people experienced when they were young and in the persisting inequalities in training opportunities during people's work careers. The case is made for a major new policy initiative to improve the quality of working life of the low-skilled and their opportunities for skill development.