Markets, networks and the new welfare state: Employment assistance reforms in Australia
Source TitleJournal of Social Policy
University of Melbourne Author/sConsidine, Mark
Document TypeJournal Article
CitationsConsidine, M, Markets, networks and the new welfare state: Employment assistance reforms in Australia, Journal of Social Policy, 1999, 28 (2), pp. 183 - 203
Access StatusOpen Access
Contemporary theoretical debates point to a transformation of societies and social organisations away from universal forms of mass production and consumption, organised through mass institutions, towards smaller, diversified, entrepreneurial units linked together by new forms of market and network co-ordination. This greater diversity is also held to be a feature of service users who require individually fashioned solutions to non-standard problems and tailored products for their different tastes. Applications of these accounts of social and economic transformation to the public sector propose similar patterns to those evident in private industry and in regional communities. The large, standardised bureaucracy is seen to give way to de-coupled, multiple agency models of service delivery within a new type of welfare state. The study uses interviews and surveys (n = 365) with service delivery staff in the Australian employment assistance sector where transformations of this type have recently been sponsored by government. These data indicate that many of the key propositions of the post-Fordist account are valid. Smaller, non-unionised units dominate the new order and services are devolved to the local level. However a number of the expected patterns of flexible specialisation, diversity and networking are not found, suggesting marked differences and possible tensions between public and private sector forms of organisational development in the new order.
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