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This task will enable students to demonstrate their understandings of key theoretical constructs which underpin social policy development.

The Australian Government Department of Social Security policy 3.8.2 – Mutual Obligation Requirements for NSY/YA Job Seekers from the Social Security Guide Version 1.2.5.3 will provide the platform for the essay question:

Critically discuss how the Mutual Obligation Requirements policy for NSY/YA Job Seekers Policy reflects the theoretical construct of neoliberalism.

Identify three specific examples of words, phrases or statements which you think reflect neoliberalist ideology FROM THIS SPECIFIC POLICY DOCUMENT, (for example: the policy use wards such as Mutual Obligation, Job seeker, requirement)

you can critically discuss how those wards reflect Neoliberalism in this policy) Use published (peer-reviewed journal articles, books or book chapters) literature to support your examples.

A research essay tests high order thinking, a capacity to examine, analyse, evaluate and develop a sophisticated argument that is well structured and well-argued and supported by literature. The skills you acquire are:

capacity for high order thinking, ability to critically analyse complex social theories and constructions, develop research skills, deep understanding of values, ideologies and social constructs that impact the formation of social policies in a liberal welfare state.

Neoliberalism and its Emergence

Neo-liberalism is a compilation of both the ideas of philosophy and economics, which makes up the seamless whole, known as the neo-liberal political economy. The neo-liberal theory presents a consistent and coherent theory of how the world works and how it is ought to work (Crowley & Hodson, 2014). The 1970s was marked by the failure of the market system in the Western European countries where the government failed, especially after the post-war periods in the year of 1945 and later (Jamrozik, 2009). This lead to the rise of a more rationalized institution for the optimal distribution of the resources available in the economy. This also depicted the renewed emphasis of the government in maintaining the well-being of its people by creating a stronger and satisfied citizen (Giroux, 2018). In the modern times, as this essay puts it, the government is trying to develop policies that promote a more liberal framework for its citizens (Venugopal, 2015).

The idea of neo-liberalism stems from the idea of a free market economy or an open economy or the ‘laissez faire’ economy. Neo-liberalism emerges from the beliefs of the Classical, Keynesian and the Liberalist view of the economy and the rules that govern the various determinants of the society (Alan, 1997). This implies that the private firms or organizations that exist in the economy have the freedom to choose and follow their own agenda and course of action while continuing to remain a part of the economy (Davies, 2016). It is based on the ideas of privatization, de-regulation, reduction in government expenditures and developing a broader market base. The approval of the government is no longer important unless guided under certain circumstances. 

The collapse of the Soviet Empire marked the creation of a system that finds its base in the residual model of the welfare states with the enhanced role that marked for voluntarism, the occupational welfare and the private market in the newly formed Europe (Jamrozik, 2009). The model of market equilibrium, as presented by John Maynard Keynes in The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936) depicts that the economy reaches an equilibrium before the full employment is reached. This is validated by the existence of the fact that chronic involuntary unemployment exists in the market unless there are any exogenous factors that would alter the effects (Alan, 1997).

Nevertheless, the neo-liberalists presented the economy in a very different way where the government aimed to restrain a few things and took control over the working of the business firms during this time. It understood that the open market culture was not a bad idea, but it needed someone to tame this by setting regulations and enforcing them for everyone else’ protection (McClelland & Smyth, 2006). This depiction owes to the work-related expenses like the comparison between the expenses related to work with the preference of leisure to the unemployed. The traditional response to this problem was none other than was the reality of a wage ceiling; high tax, low income and the strategy of ‘make work pay’ (Guides.dss.gov.au, 2019).

Neo-liberalism and the Labor Market

This paper analyzes the mutual obligations, designed in a way that ensures the provision of employment to all the individuals in the society and being paid for their services while they are voluntarily joining the labor market or looking for a job. The Department of Human Services (henceforth, DHS) delves into the system of labor market to ensure that the job seekers are receiving the optimal services and benefits that is ensured by the neoliberal policies, undertaken by the government or the economy.

The factors that help to understand the nature of political ideology working in the employment sectors are to be analyzed below from the chosen article, “Mutual Obligation Requirements for NSA/YA Job Seekers Overview” ("3.2.8.10 Mutual Obligation Requirements for NSA/YA Job Seekers Overview | Social Security Guide", 2019). There are three instances that brings out the neo-liberal aspects of the employment sector. It also tries to regulate the labor market by setting a few guidelines (Guides.dss.gov.au, 2019). The article depicts the few obligations faced by the job seekers to achieve a stable job, like age, number of dependents and the capacity to work (Guides.dss.gov.au, 2019). The chosen extracts or phrases from the above article presents how the industry works towards the achievement of optimal market equilibrium through these regulations —


Example 1:

“Partial capacity to work of 15-29 hours a week” ("3.2.8.10 Mutual Obligation Requirements for NSA/YA Job Seekers Overview | Social Security Guide", 2019)

This phrase shows that the job seekers must abide by these obligations and meet 15-29 hours of work in a week to be a part of the job market or look for some other job if they are not able to abide by the same. This demarcates that the job applicant must have the capacity to serve or work for certain given hours in a given week (Guides.dss.gov.au, 2019). However, the inability to provide this service shall be assessed by the DHS (Guides.dss.gov.au, 2019). 

“a job seeker who is assessed as having a partial capacity to work will have mutual obligation requirements which match their assessed capacity to work” ("3.2.8.10 Mutual Obligation Requirements for NSA/YA Job Seekers Overview | Social Security Guide", 2019). This shows that the job seeker should essentially have a partial capacity to work and that shall be “assessed”. This depicts that the private sector is being controlled by the government and faces intervention though it was not the original idea of the liberalized structure of governance. Nevertheless, such individuals who are not able to abide by these regulations, shall be provided specific trainings and help to meet these requirements and shall not be penalized for being unable to meet these criteria by their respective employers (Guides.dss.gov.au, 2019). This includes proper education, skill development or training that looks forward to the ability to work in a definite profile or take the responsibilities of the given job (Guides.dss.gov.au, 2019).

Example 2:

“Mutual obligation requirements job seekers aged 55 years & over” ("3.2.8.10 Mutual Obligation Requirements for NSA/YA Job Seekers Overview | Social Security Guide", 2019)

Age and Productivity are two factors that are affected by the job seeker’s quality of work. It may not be directly linked, however, people who are aged 55 year or above tend to be less productive when compared to the younger people despite their experiences (Bai, Krishna & Ma, 2013). The article states that the people, who are between 55 to 59 years of age, must meet their mutual obligation requirements by working for “at least 30 hours in a fortnight of paid work”. However, this situation carries on till they are aged 60 (Guides.dss.gov.au, 2019).

Mutual Obligation Requirements for NSY/YA Job Seekers

Here, the neoliberalist structure of the economy is depicted as it sets a condition to work for “at least 30 hours a fortnight” to be eligible to remain a part of the labor force (Bai, Krishna & Ma, 2013). However, the DHS calls this phase as a voluntary period of work-life where they are free to choose the kind of work, work hours or payment but remain conditioned to fulfilling a certain work hour (Deckeret al., 2014). They are rarely affected by the market norms but very rarely, do firms take in such old people until and unless they are extraordinary (Deckeret al., 2014). If the situation calls for a problem where the job seekers or the old staffs are barred from receiving their payments for two three months, they can easily switch and call themselves free from any liabilities of the previous organization or firm (Guides.dss.gov.au, 2019). This shows the aspect of neo-liberalism where a high authority of the government is exercised on the job seekers who tend to hold the funds if they do not find the eligible candidate who meets all the criteria, set by the government.


Example 3:

Mutual obligation of early school leavers

“To receive YA (other) people under 22 years of age without Year 12 or an equivalent qualification (referred to as early school leavers (1.1.E.05)) generally need to participate for at least 25 hours per week (15 hours per week for those early school leavers who are also principal carer parents or have a partial capacity to work of 15 to 29 hours per week)” ("3.2.8.10 Mutual Obligation Requirements for NSA/YA Job Seekers Overview | Social Security Guide", 2019)

. The third instance depicts a neo-liberal stance where surveillance is established by the DHS despite the access to discontinue education if one is the only carer or having the responsibility of being the only earner. The Government and the DHS has made it compulsory that one cannot be considered for better jobs, provided by the market, until he or she is owning a Year 12 qualification or similar (Guides.dss.gov.au., 2019). These policies aim at gaining an increased productivity within an economy (Salzman, Kuehn & Lowell, 2013).

“job seekers classified under SSAct section 5 as a principal carer of a child must, unless exempted, satisfy mutual obligation requirements by complying with approved activities outlined in their Job Plan” ("3.2.8.10 Mutual Obligation Requirements for NSA/YA Job Seekers Overview | Social Security Guide", 2019)

Examples of Neoliberalism in the Policy

In this situation it is established that that the state government remains the authority where the private firms remain answerable to the government for  recruiting individuals who are less than a certain age-group or have not yet completed pursuing their Year 12 in education. This depicts the spirit of neo-liberalism where an individual or a private organization remains answerable to the government for their actions, despite remaining an independent body, in the market economy.

Conclusion

Carson & Kerr (2017) identifies the idea of the ‘Friendly societies’ where mutual associations lead to the establishment of insurance, cooperative banking as well as pensions for the members of their organization, which was a banking sector. This continued to exist till the 21st century despite the lack of prominence during the 19th and 20th century (Carson & Kerr, 2017). The development of the Australian welfare state depicts the association of various groups based on religion or politics, in order to avail insurance and financial gains to protect their families (Carson & Kerr, 2017).  The aim of the friendly societies after the settlement of the colonies was to curb the emergence and growth of the organizations that aimed to transform into a dangerous and expensive employment sector, looking for more assistance and on-going claims (Carson & Kerr, 2017). Social policies made a major impact in the involvement of the government into the market economy, even though it was a private organization. This is the structure of the modern neo-liberalized state, quite different from the traditional doctrines of neo-liberalization, which did not allow the government to be a part of the private organization or to invade into their system of work.  The provision of allowances for the safekeeping and other assistance by the private firms made it an additional burden of cost for these organizations, which was shared by the government, as a cost of the inclusion (Carson & Kerr, 2017). These policies depict that the market system is not entirely free and is guided by the laws of labor market that are shielded by the effects of inflation and other industrial hazards to an extent with the introduction of such social policies (McClelland & Smyth, 2006). The neo-liberalist ideas project from the ideas of Classical and Liberal policies that developed after the market failed to sustain in an efficient way despite continuous trials.  This called for shielding of the open market in a partial way by setting a few limits, while continuing to remain liberalized and function in accordance to the regulations set by the economy and the government authorities. Neo-liberalization is the present form of functioning of an economy, as theorized and studied.  This shall create an impact on the  employment opportunities where protection is offered at every step to the job seeker and allowed to choose from the wide range of job opportunities with the individual right to agree or not with the organization (McClelland & Smyth, 2006). Thus, the paper studies the regulations that must be abided by the job seekers while they are voluntarily contributing to the privatized market economy. This is coupled with the issues that affect the norms governing the private sector and the development of the labor market. This is in lieu of the situation that the provision of employment opportunities caters to both — the growth and well-being of the individual as well as the organization, in the given economy.

References

3.2.8.10 Mutual Obligation Requirements for NSA/YA Job Seekers Overview | Social Security Guide. (2019). Retrieved 10 November 2019, from https://guides.dss.gov.au/guide-social-security-law/3/2/8/10

Alan, P. (1997). Neo-liberalism and social policy. Social Policy. A Conceptual and Theoretical Introduction, 31-49.

Bai, X., Krishna, K., & Ma, H. (2013). How You Export Matters: Export Mode, Learning and Productivity in China (Job Market Paper).

Biggs, S. (2012). Toward critical narrativity: Stories of ageing in contemporary social policy. In Active ageing, active learning (pp. 89-102). Springer, Dordrecht.

Carson, E., & Kerr, L. (2017). Australian social policy and the human services. Cambridge University Press.

Crowley, M., & Hodson, R. (2014). Neoliberalism at work. Social Currents, 1(1), 91-108.

Decker, R., Haltiwanger, J., Jarmin, R., & Miranda, J. (2014). The role of entrepreneurship in US job creation and economic dynamism. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 28(3), 3-24.

Feather, N. T. (2012). The psychological impact of unemployment. Springer Science & Business Media.

Flew, T. (2014). Six theories of neolibealism. Thesis Eleven, 122(1), 49-71.

George, V., & Wilding, P. (2013). Ideology and social welfare. Routledge.

Giroux, H. A. (2018). Terror of neoliberalism: Authoritarianism and the eclipse of democracy. Routledge.

Guides.dss.gov.au. (2019). 3.2.8.10 Mutual Obligation Requirements for NSA/YA Job Seekers Overview | Social Security Guide. Retrieved 10 November 2019, from https://guides.dss.gov.au/guide-social-security-law/3/2/8/10

Jamrozik, A. W. (2009). Social policy in the post-welfare state: Australian society in a changing world. Pearson Education Limited.

McClelland, A., & Smyth, P. (Eds.). (2006). Social policy in Australia: Understanding for action. South Melbourne: Oxford University Press.

Rojek, C. (2012). Social work & received ideas. Routledge.

Salzman, H., Kuehn, D., & Lowell, B. L. (2013). Current and proposed high-skilled guestworker policies discourage STEM students and grads from entering IT.

Salzman, H., Kuehn, D., & Lowell, B. L. (2013). Guestworkers in the high-skill US labor market: An analysis of supply, employment, and wage trends.

Shimer, R. (2012). Reassessing the ins and outs of unemployment. Review of Economic Dynamics, 15(2), 127-148.

Venugopal, R. (2015). Neoliberalism as concept. Economy and Society, 44(2), 165-187. (https://doi.org/10.1080/03085147.2015.1013356)

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