“The Two Faces of Activation Attitudes”

Bart Meuleman, Universität of Leuven

A5,6 Room A 231

The MZES Research Department “Die europäischen Gesellschaften und ihre Integration” invites you to its colloquium.

This lecture takes place under the title "The Two Faces of Activation Attitudes. Explaining Citizens’ Diverging Views on Demanding vs. Enabling Activition Policies”. It will be live-streamed on Zoom via this link.


A notable trend in European welfare policies is the introduction of active labour market policies (ALMPs). ALMPs aim to enhance individuals’ responsibility for their own economic sustainability and to reduce welfare dependency, through the activation of those who are not active on the labour market (Bothfeld and Betzelt, 2011; Eichhorst et al., 2008). Among the broad realm of activation policies implemented, scholars usually distinguish two main approaches: enabling activation, designed for enhancing benefit recipients’ skills and employability, and demanding activation, aimed at strengthening conditions attached to receiving social benefits (Bonoli, 2010; Dingeldey, 2007; Eichhorst et al., 2008; Kananen et al., 2006).
A series of recent empirical papers study public support for the demanding side of activation, uncovering the social-structural and ideological drivers of public opinion regarding this policy (Kootstra & Roosma, 2018; Rossetti et al. 2021; Buss, 2019). Enabling activation policies, however, are rooted in a very different policy logic. Therefore, there are good theoretical reasons to expect that support for enabling vs. demanding activation differs widely in terms of underlying social-structural characteristics (as indicators of self-intrest), social justice preferences and attitudes towards the unemployed. This contribution puts these theoretical arguments to the test using data from the Belgian National Elections Study 2020.

The lecture will be held in English. The complete lecture programme as well as current changes can be found on the webpage of MZES.