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Workfare, post-Soviet austerity and the ethics of freedom
Author: Liene Ozoliņa

This book is an ethnography of politics of waiting in the contemporary austerity state. While the global political economy is usually imagined through metaphors of acceleration and speed, this book reveals waiting as the shadow temporality of the contemporary logics of governance. The ethnographic site for this analysis is a state-run unemployment office in Latvia. This site not only grants the author unique access to observing everyday implementation of social assistance programmes that use acceleration and waiting as forms of control but also serves as a vantage point from which to compare Western and post-Soviet workfare policy designs. The book thus contributes to current debates across sociology and anthropology on the increasingly coercive forms of social control by examining ethnographically forms of statecraft that have emerged in the aftermath of several decades of neoliberalism. The ethnographic perspective reveals how time shapes a nation’s identity as well as one’s sense of self and ordinary ethics in culturally specific ways. The book traces how both the Soviet past, with its narratives of building communism at an accelerated speed while waiting patiently for a better future, as well as the post-Soviet nationalist narratives of waiting as a sacrifice for freedom come to play a role in this particular case of the politics of waiting.

Liene Ozoliņa

national and EU resources into fostering active, entrepreneurial citizenry, its welfare system has been refocused on ‘competitiveness-raising’ and workfare programmes. While state resources are invested in providing psychological support and entrepreneurship training to the unemployed in the form of the 1–4-day seminars, those who are relying on the state for more substantial assistance have their time scheduled in ways they cannot control. At the same time as waiting is produced by the way public welfare is structured and funded, this waiting is also stigmatised. Rather

in Politics of waiting
Liene Ozoliņa

Chapter 5 shows how the time of waiting can be reclaimed for meaningful ethical projects and connecting with others. Ethnographic vignettes reveal how seminars were often turned into a space for ethical self-transformation that was driven by a desire to carve out a dignified life for oneself even – and especially – when the present provided little security. This initially singularly neoliberal space thus had the potential to be turned into pluralistic spaces of conviviality, self-exploration, and conversation. Thus, rather than seeing these seminars simply as a form of workfare, one of the myriad of mobile neoliberal technologies that move across the world and are appropriated in particular ways in particular places, the chapter traces how ordinary Latvians appropriated them as a contemporary expression in the long lineage of technologies of the self.

in Politics of waiting
Abstract only
Liene Ozoliņa

unemployment office, I became even more puzzled. I was expecting the people who had lost their jobs in the aftermath of the crisis to be deeply critical of the ‘lean and mean’ welfare state.3 My plan had been to study how the welfare state had been reconfigured as part of the post-Soviet social and economic transformations, and I started with participant observation of one of the key workfare programmes4 for the unemployed, called ‘Competitiveness-Raising Activities’, which consisted of a range of one- to fourday seminars. I was expecting people to resent the fact that the

in Politics of waiting
Abstract only
Waiting for freedom
Liene Ozoliņa

theorization of the double tempo of acceleration and dead time as a key dynamic of the global political economy. In these two respects, my work takes the sociology of waiting to the context of the 2008 crisis and the austerity that ensued and speaks to the contemporary concerns of the forms of statecraft emerging in the wake of neoliberalism. Thirdly, I have sought to forge a novel perspective on austerity and workfare in the aftermath of neoliberalism by bringing to this analysis insights from the anthropology of ethics. Drawing on my ethnographic encounters with job

in Politics of waiting
Open Access (free)
Welfare reform and the ‘Third Way’ politics of New Labour and the New Democrats
Stephen Driver

commitments to social justice, because labour force attachment strategies reinforce labour market divisions, especially for the low-paid. 20 In the UK, the USA and elsewhere, the ‘welfare state’ is giving way to the ‘workfare state’. Any possibility of the Labour Government delivering on the traditional objectives of the Left has been lost. Is ‘work first’ making it

in The Third Way and beyond
Chris Armstrong

, as Dworkin (2000: 440) argues, we cannot interfere with the personal freedoms of the rich merely in the interests of relative equality. Unfortunately, the same courtesy is not extended to the poor – as with New Labour, Arneson and Dworkin appear prepared to countenance coercive measures for those who make poorly thought-out or ‘imprudent’ decisions. The last chapter detailed Dworkin’s neo-paternalist injunctions on workfare policy, but it is not only Dworkin who is willing to defend compulsory welfare-to-work schemes, for instance. Richard Arneson is even more

in Rethinking Equality
Liene Ozoliņa

Welfare reported to me during an interview, however, there was significant resistance in the Latvian government towards any such additional measures. Eventually, a compromise was reached, and it took the shape of a workfare programme. People who were out of work for over six months could receive a 100 Lats monthly cash payment (equivalent to about 140 Euro at the time) in exchange for manual labour. For months, one could see people in large numbers raking leaves, shovelling snow and plucking weeds on the streets and in the parks of cities and towns across the country

in Politics of waiting
Armando Barrientos and Martin Powell

. In conclusion, Green-Pedersen et al . 89 stated that the policy elements in the Netherlands closely match those outlined in the Blair–Schröder document. To some extent, the Netherlands has been practising the ‘Third Way’ for some years. Finally, Sweden has long been at the forefront of left-of-centre thinking in labour market policy: ‘workfare

in The Third Way and beyond
Edward Ashbee

reform, the Clinton administration embraced the cause of the balanced budget and then in 1996 the president signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act that dramatically restricted and restructured welfare provision. The Act was based around time limits on assistance whereby benefits were withdrawn after two years and a lifetime limit of five years was imposed on benefits funded by the federal government. Many states introduced workfare provisions so that those receiving assistance had either to work or to undertake prescribed training programmes

in The Right and the recession