An activating social policy for the advancement of women?


Project description (completed research project)

The welfare state’s effort to fully integrate persons able to work into the labour market also affects gender relations. The traditional model of male ”breadwinner” and non-employed housewife is replaced by the model where all adults independently earn their living. In the social insurances and social welfare, this policy is found in the fostering of employability and in the pressure on welfare benefits recipients to find employment. Such programmes seldom take into account the different life situations and needs of women and men, but they often take up on gender stereotypes: women are employed in textile studios; men are trained as forklift operators.


This research project focuses on the issue of the gender equality potential of activation strategies in the areas of unemployment insurance and social welfare. How do these institutions ”invest” in the employability of unemployed and often low qualified women? Are the measures appropriate for the specific situation and the needs of the target group? How do women deal with the demands of activation? And what does access to the working environment mean to the recipients? Does this mean more autonomy or additional burdens? The project will conduct ethnographic case studies in a regional job centre, a social services office, and three to four integration programmes (observation as well as interviews with staff and unemployed persons and their spouses/partners).

Original title

Lohnende Investitionen? Zum Gleichstellungspotenzial von Sozialinvestitionen und Aktivierung

Project leader(s)

  • Prof. Eva Nadai, Hochschule für Soziale Arbeit (HSA), Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz, Olten
  • Prof. Gisela Hauss, HSA, Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz, Olten
  • Alan Canonica, HSA, Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz, Olten
  • Loredana Monte, HSA, Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz, Olten



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