Quotation Penz, Otto, Sauer, Birgit, Gaitsch, Myriam, Hofbauer, Johanna, Glinsner, Barbara. 2017. Post-bureaucratic Encounters: Affective Labour in Public Employment Services. Critical Social Policy. 37 (4)




This article explores the activation regime in three European countries – Austria, Germany, and Switzerland – and the related transformation of state bureaucracies into customer-oriented service providers. In the case of employment services affective labour tends to characterise the work process, in which public employees seek to guide, motivate, and control jobseekers. Our study focuses on organisational mechanisms, which govern the affect management of employment agents; we ask, how these actors are affectively subjectivated at the workplace and how they develop affective self-technologies to effectively govern jobseekers in counselling sessions. We conclude that state power and social policies increasingly revolve around subtle, affective means of governance, and we regard ‘affective entrepreneurialism’ as the dominant mode to govern public employees as well as citizens. The findings of the study are based on ethnographic fieldwork in three cities, where we conducted interviews, examined training materials, and observed and videotaped interactions at selected employment agencies.


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Publication's profile

Status of publication Published
Affiliation WU
Type of publication Journal article
Journal Critical Social Policy
Citation Index SSCI
Language English
Title Post-bureaucratic Encounters: Affective Labour in Public Employment Services
Volume 37
Number 4
Year 2017
Reviewed? Y
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0261018316681286
Open Access N


Hofbauer, Johanna (Details)
Glinsner, Barbara (Former researcher)
Gaitsch, Myriam (Universität Wien, Austria)
Penz, Otto (Universität Wien, Austria)
Sauer, Birgit (Universität Wien, Austria)
Institute for Sociology and Social Research IN (Details)
Competence Center for Sustainability Transformation and Responsibility WE (Details)
Economics of Inequality FI (Details)
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