Reading active labour market policy politically: An autonomist analysis of Britain’s Work Programme and Mandatory Work Activity

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Abstract

Drawing on Autonomist Marxist theory this article situates the 2010–15 Conservative–Liberal Coalition government’s active labour market policy as the most recent phase in a state ‘strategy of underdevelopment’ (Cleaver, 1977) to erode the autonomy of labour power and facilitate a reconfiguration of labour and work to impose (competition for) undesirable jobs on the terms and conditions offered by capital (Peck, 2001: 349). The article contends that Mandatory Work Activity and the Work Programme facilitate a pattern of differentiated activation, where segmentation and stratification of the non-employed population (re)produces an insecure, disciplined, segmented and stratified labour power for insecure, segmented, stratified labour markets. From the perspective of capital and the state the differential job outcomes associated with these programmes are less a mark of policy failure than of policy success.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)369-392
Number of pages23
JournalCritical Social Policy
Volume35
Issue number3
Early online date9 Jun 2015
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2015

Keywords

  • activation
  • conservative-liberal
  • coalition government
  • UK
  • welfare reform
  • workfare

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