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Activating labor and moralities : new forms of managing the unemployed in Switzerland.

Author Edouard ZELLER
Director of thesis Anna-Riikka Kauppinen
Co-director of thesis Yvan Droz
Summary of thesis

This research engages with contemporary “activation policies”. The latter refer to a broad strategy for how states manage unemployment. Hegemonic at least in most of western liberal democracies, its core tenet is to frame jobseekers as needing to adapt to the job market and to support them in doing so, in cooperation with different public & private service providers. By engaging ethnographically with a new center for professional (re)insertion and coaching, this research aims to study how contemporary activation programs unfold in Switzerland.


This ethnography examines the following research questions:

- How do activation programs unfold in Switzerland? How are these programs shaped at different levels: by the state, by the associations mandated as third-party service providers and by their ‘unemployment experts’?

- How are these activation policies embedded in this precise site? How do they relate to the site’s culture of ‘impact entrepreneurship’?

- How are these activation programs illustrating (or not) a shift in the way chômage is problematized (by public authorities, unemployment experts and the unemployed) and delivered?


Status beginning
Administrative delay for the defence 2025 / 2026