Merging support for a return to work with unemployment contributions in France

Modernizing Injunctions
Creating a new job without considering the work
By Jean-Marie Pillon, Claire Vivés

In 2008, a new institution appeared in France: Pôle emploi. This “job-centre-like organization” was the merger of ANPE (National Employment Agency) and Assédic (Association for Employment in Industry and Trade). The purpose was to increase the effectiveness of active policies for jobseekers. This structural reform aimed at utilizing all resources dedicated to jobseekers in a more coherent way. This was to be achieved by putting unemployed people in the hands of one organization. This would create the role of an advisor acting as the sole point of contact responsible for the placement and compensation of the jobseeker. Although this institutional reform was based on a radical modification of the role of those who work with jobseekers, the content of this job was barely considered during the reform. This merger of two jobs appears increasingly impossible. The abandonment of such an acid test for the reform—the single role—does not, however, call into question the creation of the institution. By examining the emphasis on work in the development and application of this policy, this article shows how the sector-specific objectives of employment policy are increasingly being overlooked in favor of the managerial optimization of resources, without consideration for the initial objectives of the policy.


  • public employment service
  • activation policies
  • new public management
  • sociology of public action
  • sociology of work
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