Planning for a Job. The Trying Experience of Unemployment During the COVID-19 Crisis in Denmark

Sabina Pultz, Magnus Paulsen Hansen & Helene Jepsen (2021)

International Perspectives in Psychology. Online first.

Abstract. Like most OECD countries, unemployed people in Denmark have been subject to activation policies imbued with rights and obligations for decades. However, during the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, activation and conditionality were temporarily suspended. This article explores what happens to the experience of unemployment when part of the system is put on hold. Based on in-depth interviews conducted during the COVID-19 crisis with 25 unemployed people, we apply the theoretical framework of regimes of engagement developed by Laurent Thévenot to explore how unemployed people cope with and reflect on their situation. In doing so, we explore how the plans of the unemployed to find a job interact with or create tension between other engagements related to everyday life (family life, ideas about quality of life, etc.) as well as living up to the demands of public employment services. In this way, the suspension provides an opportunity to examine the effects of the active labor market programs through their absence.

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