The local dimension in labour market policies: Promoting autonomy or enforcing compliance?

TitleThe local dimension in labour market policies: Promoting autonomy or enforcing compliance?
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsBonvin, J-M, Moachon, E
EditorOtto, H-U, Ziegler, H
Book TitleEnhancing Capabilities: The Role of Social Institutions
PublisherVerlag Barbara Budrich
Place PublishedOpladen, Germany and Farmington Hills, USA

The activation of social policies coincides with the growing trend to give all local actors (i.e. civil officers, social partners, non profit associations, job-seekers themselves. etc.) more freedom of action in the implementation of the public policy process. This contrasts with the previous top-down vision where local actors were considered as mere executive tools in the hand of the central government. The correlated objective is the setting up of a genuine local employment service that would, it is claimed, be able to mobilise the knowledge and goodwill of all local players and, consequently, to design more appropriate programmes and, if necessary, to adjust them more quickly. Thus, local partnership is presented as a panacea in the struggle against unemployment. Our contribution will put to test this idyllic vision. It mainly focuses on the case of unemployment policies in Switzerland. We concentrate on the relationship between civil officers and unemployed in local agencies, taking into account the impact of the federal and cantonal legal provisions on this relationship. In-depth interviews with local actors led in two French-speaking cantons will be used in order to assess whether local action is a way to promote local actors ' autonomy and responsibility, or whether it is a way to better control and discipline them. In other words, to what extent are local agents given more freedom of action in a framework largely inspired by the New Public Management principles?