Welfare Boundaries

What Dynamics of Stresses and Resources for People in Welfare and for People out of Welfare?  NCCR LIVES – IP205

The objective of social policies is to address the issue of vulnerability defined as a lack of resources, which places individuals or groups at major risks. However, previous research has shown that social policies are deeply ambivalent and act both as providers of resources and as stressors. Indeed, being in welfare certainly gives access to resources and programmes (cash benefits, active labour market programmes, etc.), but these are subject to conditions and constraints (duty to activate oneself, individual accountability, sanctions for non-compliance, etc.) that are sources of stress.

By contrast, being out of welfare impedes access to such resources, but also frees people from the constraints and conditions attached to them. Research in other countries has shown that there are a significant number of people who choose not to take up their benefits, or who are excluded from benefit entitlement. Such people have to rely on alternative resources to cope with their difficulties. To date, we have very limited studies on the consequences of non take-up in Switzerland.

Thus, both statuses – being in welfare and being out of welfare – create specific dynamics of stresses and resources. The originality of the investigations conducted in this project is to examine these dynamics in parallel. It enables us to understand which previous trajectories lead to being on welfare or to non take-up (upwards) and what are the implications of these two statuses on vulnerability (downwards) in a life-course perspective.

More precisely, our project focuses on the two following sets of issues and research questions:

1. The ambivalence of social policies: What resources and opportunities are provided by social policies and under what conditions? Who is included and who is excluded, and on what criteria is the boundary drawn between people who are in and people who are out of welfare?

2. Agency within structure, in connection with both welfare insiders and welfare outsiders:

  • What is the implication, in terms of stresses and resources, of integration into welfare schemes? How do resources provided through social policies and the constraints imposed by them combine with individual resources and abilities to cope? These questions are investigated in two case studies: the first one focuses on disability benefit recipients and the second one on young people receiving social assistance benefits.
  • What is the implication, in terms of stresses and resources, of non-integration into welfare schemes? What alternative resources can individuals mobilise in order to cope with their difficult circumstances? These questions are tackled for young people that do not receive social assistance and, more generally, for non take-up.

Website: http://www.lives-nccr.ch/fr/page/aux-frontieres-de-letat-social-n58

Quelques publications issues du projet

  • Bonvin, J.-M. (2016). Dispositifs publics et trajectoires des bénéficiaires : Les coordonnées d’une relation complexe. In: C. Meilland & F. Sarfati (Eds) Accompagner vers l'emploi. Quand les dispositifs se mettent en action, 29-40, Bruxelles : Peter Lang.
  • Bonvin, J.-M., & Rosenstein, E. (2016). From Inclusiveness to Selectivity: Paradoxical Outcomes of Youth Transition Policies in Switzerland. Sociologia del lavoro, 141, 39-54.
  • Bonvin, J.-M., & Rosenstein, E. (2015). Contractualising social policies: A way towards more active social citizenship and enhanced capabilities?. In R. Ervik, N. Kildal & E. Nilssen (Eds.), New Contractualism in European Welfare Policies (p. 47-72). Aldershot: Ashgate.
  • Bonvin, J.-M., & Rosenstein, E. (2015). L’accessibilité au prisme des capabilités, In J. Zaffran (Ed), Handicap et accessibilité (pp. 27-48). Grenoble : Presses Universitaires de Grenoble.
  • Rosenstein, E. (2016). Trajectoires d'invalidité, trajectoires d'insertion, quelle compatibilité ? Une analyse du dispositif suisse de réadaptation. In: C. Meilland & F. Sarfati (Eds) Accompagner vers l'emploi. Quand les dispositifs se mettent en action, 57-72, Bruxelles : Peter Lang.