Disobedient Workers, The Law and the Making of Unemployment Markets

Sociology OnlineFirst early view now available for the following:

Lisa Adkins, “Disobedient Workers, The Law and the Making of Unemployment Markets”  

Abstract: This article concerns workfare and especially mandatory work activities for the unemployed. It focuses on the UK government’s Work Programme and recent challenges regarding its lawfulness. Drawing on the resources of actor network theory, and especially the economization approach to the study of markets, it outlines how the Work Programme is configuring a market for the labour of the unemployed, including a space of calculation in regard to that labour. The argument advanced is that the law and its instruments are part of the process of market making, contributing to both its design and calibration. This article therefore locates the law as an actor involved in the assembly of a market for the labour of the unemployed. It also foregrounds what is missing from recent debates on workfare, namely, an account of how the activities of the unemployed are configured and framed as labouring activities.

Keywords: Workfare, Unemployment, Actor Network Theory, Economization, Markets, Law.