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.
This article presents various forms of activities performed by locally based social welfare research and development (R&D) units in Sweden. The authors argue that these units are vital actors in the field of encouraging and strengthening evidence-based social work practice. They are close to social services organisations and have the ability to use flexible methods in order to bridge the gap between research and practice in a local context. The theoretical framework for the article is the organisational excellence model – an archetype for how research can be used in practice.