Introductory programs for immigrants

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Introductory programs for immigrants

Following the trend of most western European countries, Norwegian social policy is moving in the direction of activation and conditionality. The reform studied here, the Introductory Act for newly arrived immigrants, is one of the most prominent examples of a series of reforms following the same pattern. The main topic in the debate over activation is whether conditionality is imposed in order to qualify and enable, or rather is motivated by an intention to control and deter - in other words, empowerment or neoliberalism. The topic calls for a closer look at the measures within the activation regime in question, and their ideological anchoring. The UK activation discourse provides a contrastive case for the analysis. This paper argues that the Norwegian reform rests on an ideological cocktail of empowerment, gender/political equality, and neoliberalism. The reform was preceded by considerable changes in the political and academic discourses on citizenship, and the new discourses on empowerment and gender/political equality are clearly reflected in the act. The paper also places the changes in discourse within the context for policy change created by interests and social learning.

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