Conference: Alternatives to Flexicurity: New Concepts and Approaches

May 6 & 7, 2010 – Madrid

Venue: Escuela de Relaciones Laborales
C/San Bernardo nº 49, 28015 – MADRID
Tfno.: 91 394 66 25
A conference organized by: * The European Trade Unions Institute (ETUI) (financially supported by the European Commission)
* The University of Amsterdam (AIAS/HSI) and
* The Industrial Relations School (UCM) (in cooperation with the TRANSOC Institute)
Organising committee: * Maarten Keune, AIAS/HSI, University of Amsterdam
* Amparo Serrano, Complutense University
Information and registration: Please click here for the flyer and the registration form
Participation is free but registration required. Registrations can be send to:

Social and labour market regulations were historically developed to provide security to workers and families, redressing to some extent the asymmetrical power relationship between worker and employer in the market and offering a certain autonomy from the market as far as income and vulnerability are concerned. Since the 1970s the trend has been the reverse. Increasingly, the hegemonic discourse has focused on the (taken for granted) need for labour market flexibility, a reduction of welfare dependency and adaptability to the ever-changing claims and requirements of the market.

Academics and political actors have contributed to this process with the integration in the current “social lexicon” of a number of ambiguous and polysemic labour market and social policy concepts, most noticeably flexicurity and activation, which are presented as new ways of responding to the imperatives of the market while simultaneously strengthening the position of the individual. These concepts are promoted as universal solutions to labour market problems that at the same time are open enough to be of relevance to a wide variety of empirical realities. However, these new concepts are often underdeveloped or restricted in their conceptualisation of security and predominantly advocate adjustment to the market as the starting point for analysis and policy making. Also, they are scarcely sensitive to the different implications such approaches have for different social groups, in particular with regard to gender differences. In addition, the ambiguous and polysemic nature of notions like flexicurity and activation makes them susceptible to semantic ownership and political instrumentalization. In the meantime, labour markets are becoming more precarious, a process accelerated by the present crisis, and workers are placed in a more vulnerable position with regard to the imperatives of the market.

Within this context, this seminar will critically examine the extent and way in which concepts and approaches that are currently dominating the debate in Europe deal with the question of security. Also, it will discuss various innovative approaches towards conceptualizing, analyzing and providing security in contemporary European societies.


Please click here for the flyer and the registration form

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