The aim of this article is to understand the materialisation of social rights for citizens in need of incapacity benefits by analysing the institution of welfare inter-agency collaboration. We achieve this through an analysis of 12 observation sessions of inter-agency collaboration where incapacity benefits are being processed between several agencies. Social rights are materialised behind closed doors. The decisions are affected by suspicions of social explanations of incapacity while medical knowledge is prioritised. The laws and resources are used to suit the explanations from the officials. In such cases inter-agency collaboration risks disempowering the citizens.
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.