Activating the ‘ideal jobseeker’: Experiences of individuals with mental health conditions on the UK Work Programme

Scholz, Frederike and Ingold, Jo 2020, Activating the ‘ideal jobseeker’: Experiences of individuals with mental health conditions on the UK Work Programme, Human Relations, pp. 1-24, doi: 10.1177/0018726720934848.

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Title Activating the ‘ideal jobseeker’: Experiences of individuals with mental health conditions on the UK Work Programme
Author(s) Scholz, Frederike
Ingold, JoORCID iD for Ingold, Jo
Journal name Human Relations
Start page 1
End page 24
Total pages 24
Publisher SAGE Publishing
Place of publication Thousand Oaks, CA
Publication date 2020-06-24
ISSN 0018-7267
Keyword(s) active labour market programmes (ALMPs)
ideal jobseeker
inequality regime
mental health conditions (MHCs)
Summary Active labour market programmes (ALMPs) are critical preparation mechanisms to assist people to enter the workplace. This article analyses qualitative data from a hard-to-access group of individuals with mental health conditions (MHCs) participating in a large-scale UK ALMP, the Work Programme (WP). Using the lens of the ‘extended social model of disability’ and the concept of the ‘ideal worker’, the article demonstrates that ableist norms of the ‘ideal jobseeker’ were embedded within the Programme’s design, prioritising individuals with certain abilities and behaviour over others. Second, the article extends Acker’s framework of inequality regimes to demonstrate that formal and informal inequality practices within the Programme maintained, rather than challenged, disability inequality. This was visible along four dimensions: (1) ALMPs as organising processes producing disability inequality; (2) the visibility of disability inequality; (3) the legitimacy of disability inequality; and (4) control and compliance derived from hierarchical social relations within ALMP design and implementation, involving either stabilising or destabilising effects on disabled jobseekers. The theoretical and practical contributions of this article demonstrate that the design of the WP as an employment preparation mechanism pushed disabled jobseekers further away from paid employment, rather than towards workplace inclusion.
Language eng
DOI 10.1177/0018726720934848
Indigenous content off
Field of Research 1503 Business and Management
1608 Sociology
1701 Psychology
HERDC Research category C1.1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2020, The Authors
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Collections: Faculty of Business and Law
Department of Management
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