ISBN 978-3-03777-287-4
300 pages
format 15.5 x 22.5 cm

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SFr. 38.00 / € 38.00

Governing the Young Poor in Switzerland

How the Moral Foundations of Work Ethics Guide Social Assistance Discourse

Yann Bochsler

The present research deals with the policies directed at young adults on social assistance with-out vocational training (YAS). Drawing on data collected within cantonal administrations and pro-viders of integration (Basel-City and Geneva) as well as interviews with YAS, the publication analysis cantonal social policies and their moral underpinnings. In Switzerland, there is an ongoing strategical shift in the field of youth policies that emphasizes educational integration as a first and primary integration step. This policy shift has implications for the strategical scope of the cantons. The focus on ‘education first’ as a guideline dictates an approach, which follows an in-tertwined neo-liberal and paternalistic discourse: On the one hand, social policies are designed as investment to avoid a long-term labour market exclusion of the YAS. On the other hand, these policies are legitimized via narratives that construct the YAS as irresponsible and dependent – not yet ready to enter adulthood. In doing so, social policies create and reproduce structural vulnerabilities related to dominant moral values like reinforcing the work ethics of young welfare beneficiaries.


Yann Bochsler, Dr., studied political science and law at the Universities of Bern and Lyon. He worked as a research assistant at the office of the Swiss Conference for Social Welfare (SKOS) from 2011 to 2015. Since June 2015, he has been employed as a research associate at the School of Social Work (FHNW). His research topics are poverty, social policy, unemployment and housing.