Policy Press

Making it personal

Individualising activation services in the EU

Edited by Rik van Berkel and Ben Valkenburg


Feb 28, 2007

Page count

296 pages




234 x 156 mm


Policy Press
Making it personal

Public social services are increasingly being individualised in order to better meet the differentiated needs of competent and independent citizens and to promote the effectiveness of social interventions. This book addresses this development, focusing on a new type of social services that has become crucial in the 'modernisation' of welfare states: activation services.

The book discusses and analyses the individualisation of activation services against the background of social policy reforms on the one hand, and the introduction of new forms of public governance on the other. Critically discussing the rise of individualised social services in the light of various theoretical points of view, it analyses the way in which activation and the 'active subject' are presented in EU discourse. It compares the introduction of individualised activation services in five EU welfare states: the UK, Germany, Italy, Finland and the Czech Republic, focusing on official policies as well as policy practices.

The book provides original insights into the phenomenon of the individualised provision of activation services. It is useful reading for policy makers as well as for students and researchers of welfare states, social policies and public governance.

"'Making it personal' provides a timely and authoritative engagement with debates about current transformations in social policy. The collaborative research on which it draws traces how such transformations are being experienced in different national policy contexts within the EU; and highlights some of the tensions that result. The authors - and editors - are to be commended for producing this important, engaging and critical study." Janet Newman, Professor of Social Policy, The Open University, UK

Rik van Berkel and Ben Valkenburg are researchers of comparative social and labour market policies. They work at the Department of Interdisciplinary Social Science of the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.

Introduction: The individualisation of activation services in context ~ Rik van Berkel and Ben Valkenburg; Individualising activation services: thrashing out an ambiguous concept ~ Ben Valkenburg; A capability approach to individualised and tailor-made activation ~ Jean-Michel Bonvin and Nicholas Farvaque; Placing the individual 'at the forefront': Beck and individual approaches in activation ~ Håkan Johansson; User involvement in personal social services ~ Ilse Julkunen and Matti Heikkillä; Political production of individualised subjects in the paradoxical discourse of the EU institutions ~ Eduardo Crespo Suárez and Amparo Serrano Pascual; Reforming the public sector: personalised activation services in the UK ~ Bruce Stafford and Karen Kellard; Between universal policy and individualised practice: analysing activation policy in Finland ~ Elsa Keskitalo; Do we know where we are going? Active policies and individualisation in the Italian context ~ Vando Borghi; The individual approach in activation policy in the Czech Republic ~ Tomáš Sirovátka; Rushing towards employability-centred activation: the 'Hartz reforms' in Germany ~ Dirk Jacobi and Katrin Mohr; Individualised activation in the EU ~ Rik van Berkel.