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Political Aspects of Public Employment Programs

A Theoretical Debate and Insights from Real-World Programs

Original Citation

Haim, Daniel (2022) Political Aspects of Public Employment Programs: A Theoretical Debate and Insights from Real-World Programs. INEQ Working Paper Series, 23. WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, Vienna.


Public employment programs have become increasingly popular over the past two decades, both in theory and in practice. I revisit Michał Kalecki’s influential essay Political Aspects of Full Employment and construct a theoretical debate between Kalecki, Hyman P. Minsky and Karl Polanyi. This debate offers a contextualization of full employment policies in the broader context of labor commodification in capitalist societies, the influence of political stakeholders, and the role of social policy. I analyze the political aspects of public employment programs through three case studies in Argentina, India, and Austria. The case studies show that political opposition to public employment programs is still most prevalent among parties and media close to capital. We can also observe the continued relevance of capitalist ethics in the opposition to all projects. The realworld programs demonstrate the positive impacts of providing public employment on the selfworth of participants, female empowerment, as well as the important role of social movements in the creation and implementation of the projects.

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