Post-bureaucratic Encounters: Affective Labour in Public Employment Services

Otto Penz, Birgit Sauer, Myriam Gaitsch, Johanna Hofbauer, Barbara Glinsner

Publikation: Wissenschaftliche FachzeitschriftOriginalbeitrag in FachzeitschriftBegutachtung


This article explores the activation regime in three European countries – Austria, Germany, and Switzerland – and the related transformation of state bureaucracies into customer-oriented service providers. In the case of employment services affective labour tends to characterise the work process, in which public employees seek to guide, motivate, and control jobseekers. Our study focuses on organisational mechanisms, which govern the affect management of employment agents; we ask, how these actors are affectively subjectivated at the workplace and how they develop affective self-technologies to effectively govern jobseekers in counselling sessions. We conclude that state power and social policies increasingly revolve around subtle, affective means of governance, and we regard ‘affective entrepreneurialism’ as the dominant mode to govern public employees as well as citizens. The findings of the study are based on ethnographic fieldwork in three cities, where we conducted interviews, examined training materials, and observed and videotaped interactions at selected employment agencies.
FachzeitschriftCritical Social Policy
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2017