liu.seSearch for publications in DiVA
Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Ethnicizing Employability: Governing the Unemployed in Labour Market Projects in Sweden
Linköping University, Department of Social and Welfare Studies, REMESO – Institute for Research on Migration, Ethnicity and Society. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5624-2576
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)Alternative title
Etnifierad anställningsbarhet : Styrning av arbetslösa i arbetsmarknadsprojekt i Sverige (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

The dissertation analyzes labour market projects co-financed by the European Social Fund (ESF) targeting unemployed migrants and ethnicized groups. The analysis is qualitative, discourse-oriented and based on Foucault’s concept of governmentality. More specifically, it is highlighted how the target groups are ethnicized through discourses of employability and learning. The thesis consists of four articles. In the first three articles, focus is mainly on how the projects present themselves through their project descriptions in the ESF project bank and the fourth article is mainly based on ethnographic material. Overall, this dissertation highlights different aspects of inclusion work directed towards migrants and ethnicized target groups that can be seen as problematic and sometimes contradictory. Tendencies to individualize unemployment and thus positioning the unemployed project participants as responsible for their situation is interrogated in the thesis. Further, it is analyzed how culture and ethnicity is used in ways that are likely to strengthen the target groups ‘Otherness’ in relation to a ‘Swedishness’ that often become synonymous with what is perceived as normal and thus widening the gap between ‘us’ and ‘them’ when the stated goal is the opposite. This dissertation can serve as a starting point to reflect on how inclusion efforts and labour market projects seeking to produce social inclusion and employability may be at risk to categorize people in different ways, which can sometimes be problematic in relation to what the efforts seek to achieve.

Abstract [sv]

I avhandlingen studeras arbetsmarknadspolitiska åtgärder, i form av projekt finansierade av Europeiska socialfonden (ESF), riktade mot arbetslösa migranter och etnifierade grupper. Analysen är kvalitativ, diskursorienterad och utgår från Foucaults begrepp governmentality. Mer specifikt belyses hur projektens målgrupper etnifieras genom diskurser om anställningsbarhet och lärande. Avhandlingen består av fyra artiklar. I de tre första artiklarna fokuseras främst hur projekten framställer sig själva genom projektbeskrivningar i ESFs projektbank och den fjärde artikeln utgår främst från etnografiskt material. Sammantaget belyser avhandlingen olika aspekter - som kan ses som problematiska och ibland motsägelsefulla - av inkluderingsarbete riktat mot migranter och etnifierade målgrupper. Det handlar om tendenser att individualisera arbetslösheten och därmed i hög grad ansvariggöra de arbetslösa projektdeltagarna för sin situation. Det handlar också om att använda kultur och etnicitet på ett sätt som riskerar att förstärka målgruppernas ’annorlundahet’ i relation till den ’svenskhet’ som inte sällan blir synonymt med vad som uppfattas som normalt och på så sätt vidga gapet mellan ’vi’ och ’dem’ när den uttalade målsättningen är det motsatta. Avhandlingen kan fungera som en utgångspunkt för att reflektera kring hur inkluderingsinsatser och arbetsmarknadsprojekt riskerar att sortera och kategorisera människor på olika sätt, som kan vara problematiska i relation till vad insatserna vill uppnå.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2016. , 77 p.
Linköping Studies in Arts and Science, ISSN 0282-9800 ; 679
Keyword [en]
Employability, unemployment, social inclusion, social exclusion, ethnicity, governmentality
Keyword [sv]
Anställningsbarhet, arbetslöshet, social inkludering, social exkludering, etnicitet, governmentality
National Category
International Migration and Ethnic Relations Social Work Economics and Business Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Work Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-127382DOI: 10.3384/diss.diva-127382ISBN: 978-91-7685-781-6 (Print)OAI: diva2:922827
Public defence
2016-05-20, K3, Kåkenhus, Campus Valla, Norrköping, 10:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2016-04-25 Created: 2016-04-25 Last updated: 2016-04-28Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Learning to be swedish: governing migrants in labour-market projects
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Learning to be swedish: governing migrants in labour-market projects
2015 (English)In: Studies in Continuing Education, ISSN 0158-037X, E-ISSN 1470-126X, Vol. 37, no 3, 302-316 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article focuses on adult learning in labour-market projects targeting unemployed migrants in Sweden. Drawing on a Foucauldian analysis of governmentality, the results of the study problematize the ways that such projects produce individualizing discourses – targeting individuals, constructing them as responsible for their position as unemployed. The project’s target groups are generally defined not on the basis of ethnicity as such, but rather using terms such as non-Nordic background, foreign born and immigrants. However, two groups considered especially problematic are constructed through ethnicity: Somali and Roma people. The notion of social competency is analysed here as a way of constructing the unemployed migrants as not yet employable. Another significant result concerns the notion of gender equality, which makes migrants governable because it constructs boundaries between Swedishness and Otherness. In line with this rationality, the targeted migrants are governed towards Swedishness through learning gender equality. These results raise a number of issues of great concern for the inclusion of migrants in the labour market, as they highlight a paradoxical relationship between the inclusive ambitions of interventions targeting unemployed migrants and the ethnicized discourses of ‘Othering’ that imbue these learning practices.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, 2015
integration, migrants, learning, employability, governing, anställningsbarhet, integration, svenskhet, arbetslöshet, lärande
National Category
International Migration and Ethnic Relations Work Sciences Learning
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-120371 (URN)10.1080/0158037X.2015.1043987 (DOI)000362828100006 ()
Available from: 2015-08-03 Created: 2015-08-03 Last updated: 2016-04-25
2. Ethnicized un/employability: Problematized Others and the shaping of advanced liberal subjects
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Ethnicized un/employability: Problematized Others and the shaping of advanced liberal subjects
2013 (English)In: Ephemera : Theory and Politics in Organization, ISSN 1473-2866, Vol. 13, no 4, 737-757 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This paper suggests some analytical tools for theoretically informed qualitative research of the nexus of employability and ethnicity. A governmentality perspective, inspired by Michel Foucault and others who have elaborated on his thoughts, constitutes the analytical approach of the paper. This approach directs the analytical focus towards problematizations and how the conduct of the governed subjects is guided. The analytical tools and approach are then employed using an empirical example. The analysis shows how a certain disadvantaged group – unemployed Somalis in Sweden – is problematized in the context of a labour market project co-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF). The paper discusses how different techniques, such as resume-writing, personal action plan, guidance and job interview training are deployed in order to reshape these problematized and ethnicized Others into advanced liberal subjects, or ‘employable’ individuals.

Ethnicity, employability, ethnicization, governmentality, advanced liberal subject
National Category
Work Sciences International Migration and Ethnic Relations
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-101007 (URN)
Available from: 2013-11-16 Created: 2013-11-16 Last updated: 2016-04-25Bibliographically approved
3. Exploring Misery Discourses: Problematized Roma in Labour Market Projects
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Exploring Misery Discourses: Problematized Roma in Labour Market Projects
2016 (English)In: European Journal for Research on the Education and Learning of Adults, ISSN 2000-7426, E-ISSN 2000-7426, ISSN 2000-7426, Vol. 7, no 1, 25-40 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The aim of this article is to analyse learning practices in labour market projects cofinanced by the European Social Fund (ESF) targeting unemployed Roma in Sweden. The empirical material consists of 18 project descriptions from ESF projects, as well as national and European policy documents concerned with the inclusion of the Roma in contemporary Europe. The contemporary empirical material is analysed in relation to a government report from 1956 concerning the ‘Roma issue’ in Sweden. The analytical perspective of the study is governmentality, and the analysis focuses on different kinds of problematizations and the discursive positioning of the Roma subjects. One of the main findings is that unemployed Roma are situated in various discourses of misery and constructed as in need of reshaping their subjectivities in order to become educable as well as employable.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping University Electronic Press, 2016
Learning, adult education, employability, roma, governmentality
National Category
Learning Work Sciences
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-126365 (URN)10.3384/rela.2000-7426.rela9071 (DOI)
Available from: 2016-04-05 Created: 2016-03-23 Last updated: 2016-04-25Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(305 kB)121 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 305 kBChecksum SHA-512
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf
omslag(25 kB)12 downloads
File information
File name COVER01.pdfFile size 25 kBChecksum SHA-512
Type coverMimetype application/pdf

Other links

Publisher's full text

Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Vesterberg, Viktor
By organisation
REMESO – Institute for Research on Migration, Ethnicity and SocietyFaculty of Arts and Sciences
International Migration and Ethnic RelationsSocial WorkEconomics and BusinessSocial Sciences InterdisciplinaryWork Sciences

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 121 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Altmetric score

Total: 999 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link