Between invisibility and stigmatization: Parity in participation as a standard for labour market integration of vulnerable groups in contemporary welfare states

Bidragets oversatte titel: Mellem usynliggørelse og stigmatisering: Deltagelsesmæssig lighed som standard for arbejdsmarkedsintegration af udsatte grupper i velfærdsstaten

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskningpeer review


The political push to ensure labour market integration of marginalized citizens makes out a significant
impetus of change in Danish welfare institutions. One of the central concerns is how the particular social
privileges of vulnerable citizens are increasingly made contingent on their activity on the labour market. At
the same time, new forms of recognition of particular needs and demands of vulnerable groups are
emerging exactly to support their participation in labour. It is of central concern to manage these
contradictions for both users, professionals and politicians.
This paper outlines how Nancy Fraser’s analytical framework of crisis and parity in participation can
illuminate the contradictory impact of labour market integration of vulnerable groups in contemporary
welfare states. On a general level, the argument of the paper is that Frasers framework illuminates how
these institutional developments impacts the status of vulnerable citizens in a variegated way: The
analytical framework is differentiated to analyse concrete means of integration of vulnerable groups as
changes in the distinct but dynamically interrelated dimensions of cultural, political and economic
recognition and/or marginalization.
The merits of this differentiated approach is exemplified by presenting a preliminary analysis of Danish
employment professionals’ work with Individual Placement and Support, an evidence-based vocational
rehabilitation model for citizens with severe mental health problems. It is exemplified how contradictions
between economic, political and cultural status play out in the interaction between employment
professionals, citizens with severe mental health problems and employers. As a form of supported
employment, it relies on a cultural recognition and differentiation of a group of citizens to provide extra
political resources in order de-differentiate their status as workers and make them a part of “ordinary”
wage labour. In the terms of Fraser, a cultural and political differentiation of citizens is used to counteract
economic marginalization. This immediately furthers parity in participation. At the same time, it means that
parity in participation is increasingly contingent upon the approval of, negotiation with and/or coercion of
employers to recognize citizens’ abilities. Furthermore, it potentially changes the relations between the
employment professionals and users, in that increased institutional support is made contingent upon
(attempted) participation on the labour market. Thereby, the recognition of differentiated needs is
transferred through the state to become a demand to be competitive in the allocative process judged by
economic criteria. Parity in participation is displaced from the cultural and political to the economic sphere.
This entails risks of secondary dynamics of stigmatization, which might further new lines of differentiation
between various sub-groups of clients. For some, what is intended to be a counter-acting of economic
marginalization might even further commodification of their basic life opportunities, thus contributing to a
long-term erosion of the social and political conditions for participation in society.
It is discussed how the analytical framework of parity in participation can illuminate the contradictions of
specialized attempts to integrate vulnerable, marginalized and/or stigmatized citizens on the labour market
within a universalist welfare model.
Bidragets oversatte titelMellem usynliggørelse og stigmatisering: Deltagelsesmæssig lighed som standard for arbejdsmarkedsintegration af udsatte grupper i velfærdsstaten
StatusUdgivet - 2019
BegivenhedNordic Network on Disability Research. 15th NNDR Research Conference: Inclusion and Exclusion in the Welfare Society - University College Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Danmark
Varighed: 8 maj 201910 maj 2019
Konferencens nummer: 15


KonferenceNordic Network on Disability Research. 15th NNDR Research Conference
LokationUniversity College Copenhagen


  • Individual placement and support
  • Parity in participation
  • Supported employment

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