This article focuses on young unemployed people in Sweden involved in two activation measures. Using the analytical framework of governmentality, it analyses how the participants perceive and value activation measures as government-driven interventions aimed at bringing young people into the labour market based on a neoliberal discourse of the welfare state. The article highlights that the welfare system tries to not only promote behavioural changes, but also change the way people think. At the centre of the study are the people-changing technologies embedded in the Swedish norms of a strong work ethic. The analysis underlines how these technologies are internalised and even become a part of the participant’s own free will.