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Methodological Perspective and Research Question
The study underlying this chapter – 'Profitable Investments' (see footnote 1) – was a multi-sited ethnographic investigation. It examined its subject in various fields, each of which provided partial responses to the guiding research question (Nadai and Maeder 2005). The ethnographic field is not so much a physical location than a network of sites, actors, ideas and events investigated over the course of the research (Cook, Laidlaw and Mair 2009). As mentioned, the project focused on unemployment insurance and social welfare. Within these fields, two kinds of strategic sites were selected for analysis: state welfare agencies and unemployment offices that decide on measures and allocate clients to these measures; and agencies where such measures are implemented in practice. The study involved in-situ participant observation and guided interviews with clients and staff (see Nadai, Hauss and Canonica 2012). Data collection and analysis were based on the grounded theory of Strauss and Corbin (1990).
This chapter is based on the anonymized data from two labour integration programmes for women, which are referred to as Artigiana and Inizia. Our key questions are: how are participants categorized and which measures are selected? Which orientations become evident and how are these translated into everyday interactions? We are particularly interested in the strategies developed by social workers in a field whose orientation toward the labour market links it to a special degree to the new paradigms of social investment and activation. Adopting a stringent ethnographic approach, we analyze everyday practice in the selected programmes. We ask how the current transformations of social and labour-market policies can be observed on the ground. Our analysis focuses on 'street level bureaucracies' (Lipsky 1980) and 'the world of everyday experience' (Smith 2005, 43). We assume that frontline workers are important actors in the context of social transformation (Lipsky 1980). According to Smith (2005, 43), so-called ruling relations, which refer far beyond the microsociology of the institutions studied, are evident in 'the world of everyday experience and knowledge'.
Shaping the Adult Worker: Mothers in two Labour Integration Programmes
The educational and occupational programmes studied here differ with regard to their founding ideas, conceptions and admissions criteria. Another difference regards the patterns of work and professional training on the labour market toward which these programmes are geared. Our conclusion highlights the strategies that
Artigiana: 'They blossom when they are here': Labour Market Integration from an Emancipatory Perspective
Artigiana is a women-only project aimed at social welfare clients. It was set up in response to the suspension of women's projects in the city in question. Offering women sheltered workplaces, the programme started out as a production and sales operation before expanding to include a canteen. Initially established as a municipal facility, Artigiana became a limited liability company in 2009. (According to its female manager, it is still in a pilot phase in that same company form.) The programme provides employment in areas close to the open labour market (canteen, sales, stock management, office administration) along with sheltered workplaces (production, kitchen).2 Professional training is not a formal part of the programme, but takes place on an ad-hoc basis at the workplace. The programme currently employs 14 women (a total of 20 places are available, and participants can spend a maximum of 18 months in the programme). The minimum workload is 20 percent (i.e. one day or a few hours a week). The aim is to gradually increase the initial workload, particularly in the case of women who may potentially qualify for the labour market. Generally, however, the maximum workload is between 60 and 70 percent. Programme participants can get a taste of different fields of work. Depending on their aptitude and ability to cope with stress, they can move from more sheltered work areas (production and kitchen work) to those closer to the open labour market (services and sales). Once participants have gotten a taste of potential areas of work, their specific area is as a rule identified and their duties scheduled. Following these preliminaries, participants are assigned to a fixed workplace in one of those areas in which they are meant to seek employment on the primary labour market (Nadai, Hauss and Canonica 2012).
Although Artigiana's admissions criteria are relatively open, it is predominantly single mothers that are allocated by social services to the programme. Once their child is two years old, these women are obliged to integrate into the labour market and to individually organize childcare for their children. Despite the fact that the two basic entry requirements are gender and the ability to work, the overwhelming majority of participants are nevertheless single mothers. They are considered a so-called special area within the institution. One member of staff describes the typical participant thus: 'She's a migrant, she's got children, and she's a single mother. She doesn't speak perfect German. And she may well have mental and physical impairments.'
2 Workplaces close to the labour market involve customer contact or demands similar to those of the primary labour market. Sheltered workplaces largely involve no customer contact and lower expectations concerning results and work performance. The women entering the programme are full-time mothers. Our research looked at how the programme shapes their transition from being full-time mothers to gainfully employed persons. Which programme-related categorizations and strategies became apparent in everyday work training, in consulting sessions and in agreements on performance objectives? Or, put differently, how is the adult worker construed on the ground?
Programme participants are approached as women who, bound as they are to the authority structure of a patriarchal background, are unable to step out of these traditions and life patterns unaided, so as to reorganize their lives between employment, caregiving and housekeeping (see also Leiprecht and Lutz 2010). The programme appears to be a place where traditional gender roles are meant to be prised open or at least expanded. For the participants, this involves adjusting to prevailing social policy norms regarding gender order and the division of labour. To foster both this learning process and experimentation with the (new) skills needed for coordinating caregiving, housekeeping and employment, the programme offers participants flexible work time models, different activities and qualification levels and, compared to other programmes, a relatively long time horizon.
The programme's everyday action strategies are based on various categorizations of participants. In describing the problems that the participating women need to work on, staff members refer to three dimensions: motherhood, gender and ethnicity. These dimensions intersect in everyday programme practice and are distinguished here solely for the purposes of analysis. The single immigrant mother, seen as a 'woman with multiple diffi becomes an interdependent category (Walgenbach 2007). In other words, she is a confi with its own particular features (Gutierez 1996,170). Notably, this intersection of social categories excludes social background, even though the women are dependent on social welfare benefi and thus are perceived as poor by society (Simmel 1992).
Our analysis first of all elucidates the dimension of motherhood. The single mothers allocated to the programme largely come from a phase in their lives devoted to giving birth and raising children. They have not pursued gainful employment in recent years, but instead have contributed housework and caregiving to the social cohesion. The programme, however, does not consider their current occupation, as women keeping house and raising children, as labour in the proper sense.3 This corroborates Regina Becker Schmidt's fundamental observation that if labour is conceived as a form of socialization, then housework remains excluded (Becker-Schmid 2003,13). In the eyes of Artigiana staff members, caregiving and
3 The considerable significance attached by Artigiana to gainful employment may also be due to its institutional remit of promoting integration into the labour market. And yet the social recognition of care work is a key issue in feminist debates (e.g. Daly 2011). It is therefore conspicuous if a project that sees itself as committed to the advancement of women fails to acknowledge such work. householding are not conducive to the programme participants' social integration. Instead, staff members assume that the dependencies and allegiances arising from childcare act as a constraint on socialization. Thus, the time that mothers spend at home is considered a phase in which they may well be housewives and childminders, but during which they have in effect done nothing and have 'not actively moved around within the working world'. Caregiving and housekeeping are described as 'the being-at-home rut'. As one staff member observes, 'Their daily routine revolves round the child […] and that must slowly change'. Programme staff are convinced that the sooner a woman enters the work process, the less she needs to be 'built up after a long period at home'. The image of the mother at home with a child is deployed as a negative foil, as a figure to be abhorred so to speak. The programme disregards the broad range of skills acquired by women in the domestic sphere. In this conception, the figure of the mother who raises her own child leads to a lack of independence for both mother and child.
The figure of the mother is strongly linked to a second dimension, namely, the women's immigrant background. It is assumed that such women, in particular those from regions with strong family structures, place their children in care against their own convictions. It is well known that doing so involves feelings of guilt. 'They feel much more guilty than Swiss women', reports one staff member. Therefore, the programme grants these women the time needed for learning to cope with bringing their children to a nursery. Besides feeling their way into a new image of themselves as working mothers, their new role also demands planning skills. The women must determine the day care schedule long in advance, and thereby correctly assess workplace anomalies (e.g. unexpected schedule changes).
The programme's function is to retrain full-time mothers as women capable of organizing their lives between gainful employment and educational duties to the extent that they can cope reasonably well with the specific working structures of the Swiss low-pay sector. The programme thus promotes the twofold integration of women into the social fabric. While they continue to be responsible for unpaid housework and caregiving, these tasks are devalued and supposed to be reduced to a minimum. Consequently, the pressure to participate in working life remains at the forefront of these women's lives.
Besides motherhood and ethnicity, Artigiana staff members refer to and underscore a third dimension for describing participants: gender. In its own eyes, the programme contributes to the advancement of women. It justifies the need for female-only programmes by pointing to the various disadvantages faced by women. Seen thus, a women's programme provides a sheltered space for discussing issues of particular concern to women, ones which would otherwise be neglected. Focal issues such as experiences of violence, physical well-being, and health require female-specific provision and services. Artigiana staff members maintain that mixed labour integration programmes disadvantage female welfare recipients as compared to male ones. Women are easily overlooked and cannot assert themselves. They are hardly given the chance to practise their artisanal
discoveries, as well as repeatedly experiment with and deepen particular skills. 'It's a pity it isn't normal work', remarks one participant, 'with regular
pay and so on'. This observation, excerpted from our field notes, occurred in a conversation about whether Artigiana can offer employment contracts that would enable participants to remain at the facility after the end of their scheduled training period. As one participant observes, one can 'go under' in the gender-specific lowpay sector where most Artigiana participants find work on leaving the programme. Possible follow-up solutions include work placements, partial-pay agreements and other integration programmes. Only very few participants find secure employment in sectors for which those areas of the programme closest to the primary labour market have prepared them. The women learn to adapt to the constraints of the labour market, in particular its demand for flexibility. They must come to terms with a labour market that provides only limited opportunities for employment
Inizia: 'Taking You by the Hand' on Your Path to Adulthood: Labour-market Integration from a Paternalistic Perspective
Inizia is a project for young single mothers, developed by the trade association of a medium-size Swiss city within the context of various programmes for young adults. The social investment made by the local employers' association in the education of disadvantaged women recalls nineteenth-century paternalism, at a time when factory owners provided corporate housing for their workers' families. Paternalism is convinced that it is acting for the good of those concerned, that it knows what is good for people, and that it knows how to guide them in the right direction (e.g. Thaler and Sunstein 2009). Inizia is aimed at young, unqualified mothers aged between 16 and 25. To be accepted into the programme, prospective participants must have completed at least their compulsory education and possess a good working knowledge of the German language. Most participants are single parents not involved in a steady relationship when entering the programme. Inizia aims to guide participants toward professional training. Ideally, they will find an apprenticeship on completing the one-year programme. Inizia offers places to fifteen to twenty participants. Spanning five half-days a week, the curriculum consists of modules dedicated to topics relevant to the labour market, such as career choice and advice, application coaching and communication skills, mathematics, and German, as well as modules dedicated to child education, coping with personal and psychological blockages, and sexual health. For the duration of the programme, childcare is organized for those five half-days on which mothers are required to attend the various modules. At the end of the one-year cycle, Inizia offers needs-driven personal coaching to participants doing an apprenticeship.
Predominantly single mothers with children aged two years or older are allocated by social services to Inizia. Up until that point, the mothers receive welfare benefits without having to provide evidence of their efforts to integrate into the labour market. The majority of these young women are under the age of 26 and classified as young adults, a group that has attracted the attention of social services also in Switzerland in recent years. About ten years ago, the first poverty studies indicated the precarious situation of a considerable number of young people living in the country. For this group, the transition from compulsory to non-compulsory education (i.e. to gainful employment) poses a risk they must learn to cope with. Implying the decline of the classic, linear life-course, the concept of the young adult rests on the expansion and differentiation of the youth phase described in various socialization theories (Böhnisch 2001; Hurrelmann and
Our ethnographic approach provides insight into the various categories and interactions of the programme and thus makes its strategies comprehensible on the level of everyday practice. We first considered the categorizations used by staff members to construe their clients. Thus, Inizia participants are perceived as 'women who have become pregnant at an early age'. This categorization comprises two dimensions: age and family status. Regarding family roles, it points to these women's relatively early, partial transition to the adult world. Yet to face other demands on their personality development as young people (such as the transition to economic self-sufficiency), these women are already assuming the role of a mother. Status inconsistency, which is characteristic of the youth phase, is thus particularly manifest in these women's lives.
The deferral of a time pattern considered ideal for the life-course – namely, establishing a secure wage earner's role, followed by an equally secure role within the family – means that these young women simultaneously occupy social positions with very different values (Hurrelmann and Quenzel 2012). Such deferral results in an imbalance and asynchronicity of social roles. For instance, the presumed autonomy of the mother's role conflicts with the (still) uncompleted pathway toward qualifying for a professional role (and, by implication, gaining financial independence). Inizia participants are too young to be mothers and too old to enter an apprenticeship. The programme sees itself as a project that provides young women with the guidance needed for coping with these anachronistic transitions. Making the transition to adult status, in terms of labour-market participation, takes priority. Inizia aims to enable participants to do an apprenticeship alongside fulfilling their caregiving duties. Not only does the programme require the young women to make up developmental stages missed in other areas of life and to work on personal blockages, but it also creates space as regards childcare responsibilities.
Women who have become pregnant at an early age: this category, mentioned above, highlights the participants' youth status, which heavily influences the programme's everyday practice. Staff members are aware of the adolescence crises and risk behaviour making up the biographies of these young women, whose situation is described as insecure and fragile. Something could happen at any moment in the participants' personal environment that could jeopardize their search for an apprenticeship. Participant observation shows that the women's conflicts with themselves and with the programme are intense and often turbulent. Staff members assume that the young women have not yet reached that stage in life where they ought to be and their personality development is considered incomplete. Staff members describe the young women's concept of themselves as insecure. Thus, there is a gap between how they see themselves and how others see them, so the young women tend to either overor underestimate themselves. They have difficulty in coping with frustration. When strongly confronted, they
sector, infant education, or assistant clerical work.
Out of the 65 participants who have attended Inizia since its inception, 41 women found a follow-up solution on completing the one-year cycle. Slightly more than half of the participants actually embarked on an apprenticeship. One fourth started a placement, albeit with uncertain prospects for a future apprenticeship. Four women applied for admission to a school, one accepted a job without any training opportunities, and two ended the programme without a follow-up solution. Slightly more than one third of the participants withdrew from the programme prematurely or were expelled for disciplinary reasons or for lacking motivation (Nadai, Hauss and Canonica 2012, 9).
In addition to modules with an explicit transition perspective, programme contents also address the young women's concepts of themselves. Participants are encouraged to explore their inner psychic world, health and sexuality. To this end, they are temporarily removed from the social pressures of making the transition to working life. For instance, painting therapy helps them express their feelings and wishes. Developing self-confidence is practised within the context of peer education.4 Sessions are devoted to developing their conceptions of self, identity and self-esteem.
Participants also work on so-called stumbling blocks, that is, past issues that impede their search for employment. The programme thus adopts the moratorium perspective familiar from youth research (Erikson 1966; Raithel 2011, 20). The young women are absolved from the duties and requirements of the adult world for a short period of time in order to concentrate on learning to cope with everyday life instead (Molnár and Zinnecker 1988; Böhnisch and Münchmeier 1990, quoted from Raithel 2011, 19). In these modules, participants use the programme as a social space in which they orient themselves toward each other and distance themselves from the adult world. Sessions are noisy, characterized by pranks
4 To build self-confidence and practise interpersonal skills, the young women are trained to become peer educators and are tasked with running sex education sessions at schools. and unruliness. For the staff members, however, the moratorium perspective remains provisional: the temporary release from adult responsibilities ultimately serves to enhance participant employability. Conceived as a moratorium, the youth phase is not attributed its proper sociocultural weight, but instead accepted on a selective basis as a precondition for better employability and as such instrumentalized to attain the programme's objectives.
In addition to the youth phase, the categorization of Women who have become pregnant at an early age also indicates the dimension of motherhood. In addressing the women as mothers, the programme pushes their youth status into the background. Both positions hardly ever coincide in staff–participant interactions. Staff members thus respond to the challenge of working with a clientele occupying different positions with varying statuses by dealing with one status at a time rather than with both simultaneously. Motherhood is assessed in ambivalent terms. Having and raising a child is considered to be a step into adulthood. For the women, the child represents a caesura: They often realize that 'things cannot continue like this' and begin taking responsibility. In this respect, participants are seen to be more advanced than their childless peers. Early pregnancy is not interpreted as a problem, but rather as a positive turn in these women's lives. Great value is attached to the young women's transition to adult status: one staff member observed that 'I take my hat off to any woman who pulls off this feat'.
Nevertheless, motherhood comes too soon from an institutional perspective. At Inizia, staff members insinuate that the young women are potentially unable to fill the role of the mother to the full benefit of their children. In response, Inizia offers a weekly morning infant education session, which the young mothers attend with their children. Staff members endeavour not to interfere with the mothers' educational habits, but are pleased if the mothers draw each other's attention to good educational standards such as healthy nutrition. Staff intervene in the mother–child relationship, in particular, within the context of the transition to gainful employment. The young women already start bringing their children to the nursery while on the programme.
The issue at stake is the young mother's detachment from her child. For the mothers, detachment is a dual concern during their transition from youth to adulthood. Like other young people, they need to detach themselves from their role as daughters in their family of origin. Moreover, the investment made in employed mothers aims to help them create distance within the close relationship with their children.
Inizia strives to separate the women from emotional ties and dependencies to the extent that their qualifiability and earning capacity are not impaired. Thus, the normative target projections concerning the transition to adulthood are re-established. Qualifying for professional life is given priority over establishing ties. The latter task forms the basis of founding a family and thus of a partner relationship. For the duration of the programme, this normative objective applies to men and women alike. Once the women have completed the programme, they need to make childcare arrangements so that these do not impair the attainment
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