A1 Journal article (refereed)
The Promise and Deception of Participation in Welfare Services for Unemployed Young People (2018)

Matthies, Aila-Leena; Närhi, Kati; Kokkonen, Tuomo (2018). The Promise and Deception of Participation in Welfare Services for Unemployed Young People. Critical Social Work, 19 (2), 1-20. DOI: 10.22329/csw.v19i2.5677

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Matthies, Aila-Leena; Närhi, Kati; Kokkonen, Tuomo
Journal or series: Critical Social Work
eISSN: 1543-9372
Publication year: 2018
Volume: 19
Issue number: 2
Pages range: 1-20
Publisher: University of Windsor
Publication country: Canada
Publication language: English
Open Access: Publication published in an open access channel
Publication is parallel published (JYX): https://jyx.jyu.fi/handle/123456789/66833


This study examined the role of welfare services in the participative citizenship of young people under 30 years of age outside the labour market. Thematic content analysis of the government’s white papers regarding participation policies, as well as participatory action research projects in two Finnish towns, were used to identify factors that enable or hinder participation for this group of service users. The paradigm of participation was critically examined with reference to the theoretical framework of Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno’s “dialectic of Enlightenment”, which proposes the parallel existence of the promise and the deception of Enlightenment. The results indicated that user participation holds the potential to promote democratization, consolidation, and qualitative improvements in services, especially by valuing experience-based knowledge and enabling the growing political citizenship of young people. However, the promises of the paradigm of participation can turn toward deception when applied as a managerialistic workfare instrument to control young people’s behaviour and can even deepen marginalization by focusing only on their absence from workforce participation. The ambivalent role of social sciences and social work as agencies of Enlightenment in developing participation technologies is also discussed.

Free keywords: paradigm of participation; welfare services; young people; unemployment; dialectic of Enlightenment

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes
Reporting Year: 2019

Last updated on 2020-19-03 at 17:55