'Striking out' : shifting labour markets, welfare to work policy and the renegotiation of gender performances

Smith, Katherine E. and Bambra, Clare and Joyce, Kerry (2010) 'Striking out' : shifting labour markets, welfare to work policy and the renegotiation of gender performances. Critical Social Policy, 30 (1). pp. 74-98. ISSN 0261-0183

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    Abstract

    Since 1997, the English government has committed itself to the twin (and inter-linked) policy aims of reducing health inequalities and tackling social exclusion. Welfare to work interventions have formed a key part of the policy response to both of these problems. So far, this approach has been largely supply-side focused and 'gender-blind', treating both men and women who are not in employment as discrete entities who, with the right combination of training and support, can be engaged within the formal economy. Drawing on data from qualitative case studies of two such interventions in the North-East of England (one of which offered unemployed parents childcare training and the other of which provided vocational and advisory support to young parents), this paper contributes to a growing literature exploring the gender dimensions of social policy interventions. The findings emphasize the centrality of gender to participants and demonstrate the necessity of gender sensitivity in projects designed to tackle worklessness.