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Symposium 27 January 2020 : The Future of Welfare to Work
What is problematic about welfare to work and what are realistic and just alternatives?
Social lawyers and sociologists will discuss these questions in an interdisciplinary symposium on the
future of welfare to work. Contributions in the first part of the symposium take the lived experiences
of welfare to work as a starting point for thinking about potential systemic reforms. Contributions in
the second part address the question whether welfare to work can be classified as forced work. The
last part of the symposium is the book launch of ‘Welfare to Work in Contemporary European
Welfare States’. The editors will present its main conclusions, including an alternative design for
current welfare to work legislation. The symposium will be moderated by Klara Boonstra, professor
of International Labour Law at the VU University Amsterdam and Director of the Scientific
Foundation for Social Democracy (Wiarda Beckman Stichting).
11.00 Opening and Welcome by Anja Eleveld
11.15 Ruth Patrick (Lecturer in Social Policy and Social Work, University of York)
‘Exploring the Gulf Between Policy Narratives on Welfare Reform and Lived
Experiences in the UK’
11.45 Gijsbert Vonk (Professor of Social Security Law, University of Groningen)
‘Why Social Assistance is Bound to fail: the Problematic Character of the Rationale of
Social Assistance and the Merits of an Alternative Approach’
12.15 Ruth Patrick and Gijsbert Vonk react on each other, followed by a plenary discussion
13.45: Erin Hatton (Associate Professor of Sociology, State University of New York at Buffalo)
‘Labour Coercion and Welfare to Work’
14.15: Amir Paz-Fuchs (Professor of Law and Social Justice) reacts and plenary discussion
15.00 Coffee break
15.15 Anja Eleveld, Thomas Kampen and Josien Arts (Assistant Professor of Social Law, VU
University Amsterdam; Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Humanistic
Studies; and Sociologist at The Netherlands Institute for Social Research)
Book launch: Welfare to Work in Contemporary European Welfare States. Legal,
Sociological and Philosophical Perspectives on Justice and Domination, Bristol: Policy Press.
15.45: Ruth Patrick, Gijsbert Vonk and Erin Hatton share their thoughts on the book
16.15: Plenary discussion
17.00: Discuss Future Research Collaborations
If you want to attend this symposium, please send an email to email@example.com
is a lecturer in Social Policy and Social Work at the University of York. Her research has focused on
lived experiences of welfare reform. She is particularly interested in the use of qualitative
longitudinal approaches that enable researchers to ‘walk alongside’ participants. In her current
research Ruth Patrick seeks to better understand the (dis)connect between popular and political
narratives around poverty, welfare reform and austerity and lived experiences for those directly
affected by recent and ongoing changes to the British social security system.
is a professor of Social Security Law. His research has focused on poverty, sanctioning of welfare
recipients and socio-economic human rights. In his current research he seeks to develop a universal
social security system in the Netherlands that guarantees a social minimum for people in the
working age by a mixture of current social assistance benefits and income-dependent tax benefits.
One of the core questions of this research is how this novel system can be reconciled with
contemporary trends and expectations in the field of immigration, individualization and
is an associate professor of Sociology at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Her research has
focused on work and the political economy, while also extending into the fields of social inequality,
labour, law and social policy. In her forthcoming book, Coerced: Work Under Threat of
Punishment (UC Press, 2020), she examines coerced labour in contemporary America. Drawing on
interviews with more than 100 workers, she studies coercion, hegemony and resistance among
three different types of coerced workers: incarcerated, workfare and student-athlete workers.
is a professor of Law and Social Justice at the University of Sussex. His research has focused on
welfare to work and conditional rights. Amir Paz-Fuchs is currently working on a monograph on
unfree labour, including workfare.
is an assistant professor of Social Law at the VU University Amsterdam. Her research has focused on
discourses on and narratives underlying social security reforms. In her current research she
examines the social working of rules in workfare contexts.
is an assistant professor of Sociology at the University of Humanistic Studies. His research has
focused on workfare volunteerism. In his current research he examines the experiences of recipients
of social assistance across distinct municipal welfare regimes in the Netherlands.
is a Sociologist at The Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP). Her research has focused on
the deployment pedagogies of optimism in activating welfare programmes in the Netherlands.