Europe and the construction of a worker mentality

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


This chapter explores how the human social right to a minimum means of subsistence is being deployed as an instrument for governing the work behaviour of welfare recipients and whether deployment of this right creates an active self-responsible worker mentality, as presupposed by EU social policies. For this purpose, the chapter draws on two empirical case studies on labour activation programmes for benefit recipients conducted in the Netherlands. Using Foucauldian power analytics, it is concluded that, depending on the nature of the sanctioning system, the technology of human social rights produced either subjects who primarily played the role of an active worker, or subjects who primarily acted as an active worker in the labour activation programmes, instead of behaving as an active, forward-looking worker, seeking to transfer to a regular job.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLaw, labour and the humanities
EditorsTiziano Toracca, Angela Condello
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)9780429022302
ISBN (Print)9780367077174
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019

Publication series

NameDiscourses of Law


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