I am an associate professor of social work at Stockholm University (Department of Social Work). My fields of interest are welfare state reforms in Sweden and in European countries with a special focus on social assistance schemes and activation policies from a governance perspective. I am in particularly interested in questions related to social inclusion and poverty with a focus on institutions and organizational solutions.
I participated in several international research projects and networks such as "The role of Social Assistance as a means of Social Inclusion and Activation" (SocAss), the Project on Rescaling of Social Welfare Policies, the RECWOWE Network of Excellence, and the Nordic network "Countering Globalization: Education, activation, and social exclusion in the Nordic countries". Anohter EUropean projekt was INSPIRES (Innovative Social Policies for Inclusive and Resilient Labour Markets in Europe) a long-term project co-funded by the European Commission under the Framework Program 7.
A more recent project was to examine the extent and character of and policy responses to the increase in non-economic vulnerable EU citizens in Sweden. Together with some collegues I will scrutiniz national and local institutions and actors involved in the policy formulation and implementation and their dynamic interactions in the case of vulnerable EU citizens.
Just now; I am the project leader for a research project on Youth, not in Employment, Education and Training (NEET).
A selection from Stockholm University publication database
Effective local governance assisting vulnerable groups: The case of youth not in employment, education or training (NEETs) in Sweden
2022. Carina Mellberg (et al.). International Journal of Social WelfareArticle
Youth not in employment, education or training (NEETs) have been analyzedfrom either individual or macro-structuralperspectives, while policy discussionshave emphasized national policy. This disregards (i) the substantial variation inNEET rates within countries, and (ii) the importance of local governance for thisvariation. We examine these issues in Sweden through the lens of interactive governance.Theoretically, four aspects of collective action are highlighted: identificationof local NEET subgroups, perceptions of problems and of solutions, andstakeholder relationships. Empirically, an initial multi-levelregression analysis ofall 290 Swedish municipalities provided the basis for semi-structuredinterviewsregarding local work with NEETs in 20 strategically selected municipalities. Thequalitative data are here analyzed using fuzzy-setqualitative comparative analysis.The results suggest that municipalities where local governance combinesthree of the four aspects, namely identifying NEET subgroups and sharing perceptionsof problems and of solutions, have lower NEET shares than predicted.
A scoping review of research on coordinated pathways towards employment for youth in vulnerable life situations: [En litteraturstudie av forskning på koordinerte veier frem til arbeid for ungdommer i sårbare livssituasjoner]
2021. Therese Saltkjel (et al.). European Journal of Social WorkArticle
For youth in vulnerable life situations, pathways to employment can bechallenging, suggesting the need for coordinated services. The aim ofthis review is to explore the existing research on coordinated servicesfor youth in vulnerable life situations. Considering the heterogenousnature of the literature, we adopted a scoping review methodology. Weselected works from a base of 92 papers on youth, coordinated services,and pathways to work that were published in English during the periodof 1990–2018. Additionally, to identify research streams, we performeda bibliometric analysis using VOSviewer to create network maps basedon shared terms in the papers’ titles and abstracts. The synthesisedfindings show two streams of research that we refer to by the followingnarrative titles: (1) ‘Enabling transition to adulthood for youth withdisabilities or severe health problems’, and (2) ‘Preventing the socialexclusion of youth at risk’. The first stream seems to represent a moreestablished area(s) of research, while the second stream appears to bemore fragmented. The life situations of the youth in both streams,however, overlap, indicating possibilities for knowledge exchange, suchas social workers engaging in policy practices and advancing effortstowards enacting system changes.
REACHING WITHOUT OUTREACHING
2021. Lisa Andersson, Renate Minas. International Journal of Social WelfareArticle
Youth unemployment is a global issue, with supranational actors calling for policy responses, including early interventions such as outreach. This article examines how EU member states have translated the EU youth guarantee (YG) recommendation, focusing on early interventions in the form of outreach. Combining quantitative content analysis with corpus linguistics, we examined the YG implementation plans of 19 EU member states having differing institutional conditions, comparing if and how they have incorporated outreach in their policy agenda. Overall we found very little outreach in the YG-plans. In the outreach described, guidance and information on education and labour market efforts dominate, whereas social work and local level community work is largely absent. We found type of outreach to be related to institutional conditions. Our results also imply that getting member states to commit to early interventions such as outreach requires that the EU stress this issue with greater emphasis.
EU citizens begging and sleeping rough in Swedish Urban Areas
2019. Mats Ekendahl, Patrik Karlsson, Renate Minas. Nordic Social Work ResearchArticle
EU citizens from Central and Eastern Europe travelling to cities in other countries to make a better living have become an issue of major political concern across Europe. This study explores how professionals from Swedish municipal social service organizations in urban areas construct the phenomenon of poor visiting EU citizens. The impact of social constructions on the practice and design of policies makes it important to analyse how target groups, such as poor visiting EU citizens, are characterized and what normative assumptions are made about them. The study is theoretically based on Schneider and Ingram’s work on ‘Social Constructions of Target Populations’. Interviews with social workers in the three largest cities in Sweden were conducted. The results suggest a clear ambivalence among interviewees regarding how to conceptualize EU citizens. They were careful not to highlight any subgroups, instead defining the group as consisting of different individuals with varying needs. While the interviewees constructed members of the target group in a way similar to what Schneider and Ingram describe as dependents, they also attributed them with some agency. We conclude that this may be a reflection of the political and organizational setting in which social work with poor visiting EU citizens is conducted in Sweden.
The governance of poverty
2018. Renate Minas (et al.). Journal of European Social Policy 28 (5), 487-500Article
Social assistance benefits are the last resort in national social protection systems, and decentralizing reforms leading to increasing local discretion over implementation of national legislation was an international trend frequently referred to as devolution. More recent reforms have instead often implied recentralization and/or involved mandatory institutional cooperation between welfare agencies located at different hierarchical levels. In contrast to North America, there is little European evidence on the extent to which shifting responsibilities influence benefit levels and benefit receipt. Using individual level register data from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden and applying a difference-in-difference approach, we link changes in legislation to changes in municipal benefits as well as caseloads during the period 1990–2010. We only find indications of reform effects linked to distinct benefit centralization, concluding that other reforms were too insubstantial to have an impact. Combined with earlier evidence, this suggests that in order to have an impact, welfare reform requires marked changes in authority.
Social rights and spatial access to local social services: The role of structural conditions in access to local social services in Estonia
2017. Kersti Kriisk, Renate Minas.Article
Provision of local social services is an important measure to alleviate poverty, support vulnerable groups and promote citizens' independence. Access to these services is therefore a crucial aspect. However, access to local social services can come across many obstacles. This study aims at analysing access to local social services and the impact of structural conditions thereto. Estonia is used as an example. It is one of the smallest Eastern European countries, but divided into a large number of municipalities often with very low population density. We will analyse the impact of local conditions, using indicators like remoteness, resources and spending, on the extent of and the additional demand for a broad array of local social services. We include all of the local social services in Estonia that the municipalities are expected to finance and administer locally. Empirical data on the extent of and the additional demand for social services comes from a survey conducted among local social workers, whereas data on structural conditions derives from Statistics Estonia and the Ministry of Finance. Analytically, this article is embedded in the discussion about social rights.
Organizing local social service measures tocounteract long-term social assistance receipt. What works? Experiences from Sweden
2017. Åke Bergmark, Olof Bäckman, Renate Minas. European Journal of Social Work 20 (4), 548-559Article
Active labour market policies and programs (ALMPs) have over the lastdecades been established as main instruments to promote the transitionfrom welfare to work. In this article we study strategies employed bySwedish municipalities to help recipients ending spells of socialassistance take-up. By using a combination of quantitative andqualitative data we try to identify which approaches stand out as moresuccessful than others with respect to social assistance duration. Wehave formed pairs of municipalities similar in important respects, butwith different social assistance exit rates as predicted by a statisticalmodel. Then we conducted case studies in the selected municipalities’social assistance units, gathering information on how work is carried outand organized. Information was collected by semi-structured interviewswith department managers and front-line social workers. In theinterviews we identified various elements of practice that emerged asrelevant, suggesting that shorter spells follow from activation with afocus on human resource development, programmes targeted at youngadults, well-functioning collaboration, and use of sanctions or an overallapproach characterized by systemized efforts.
The concept of integrated services in different welfare states from a life course perspective
2016. Renate Minas. International Social Security Review 69 (3-4), 85-107Article
The concept of integrated services is a common feature of current social policy discussions. It is often argued that social support systems have not evolved to cope with the complexity of individuals’ needs. This is deemed true for a variety of interrelated difficulties that cut across traditional welfare programmes and life course lines. This article examines the efforts of integrated services to bridge policy areas such as social policy, labour market policy and health care services for four different vulnerable groups at major stages of the life course: childhood, youth, adulthood and old age. Analytically, the article adopts a framework developed by Valentijn et al. (2013) that allows systematic comparisons. Using mainly high-income economy examples, the article connects key features of a certain policy area with key elements of integrated services. Key features of a policy area direct attention to the function of the policy area, and these are expressed through the framework of “person-focused” and “population-focused” services. Key elements of integrated services in turn emphasize levels of integration (macro, meso, micro). Central questions addressed are the character of integration efforts for vulnerable groups at different stages of the life cycle and how variations therein can be understood. As a complement, sociological explanations of individual vulnerability, which are separated by causes of vulnerability into basic, conditional and triggering factors, are also used. A main finding is that the life course perspective as such does not explain variation in integration efforts; rather, it is the institutional features of the specific policy areas. These constrain or promote the potential for greater integration.
Att möta globaliseringen
2015. Tomas Korpi, Olof Bäckman, Renate Minas.Book
De nordiska ländernas ekonomiska utbyte med omvärlden har ökat dramatiskt. I debatten har globaliseringens förespråkare sett internationellt utbyte som en förutsättning för fortsatt välstånd, medan kritikerna varnat för arbetslöshet och ojämlikhet. Utvecklingen av inkomstfluktuationer och -skillnader kan emellertid inte förklaras av globaliseringen. Internationell handel, kapitalrörlighet och migration har således inte lett till ökad osäkerhet och ojämlikhet så som befarats – alternativt så har länderna varit framgångsrika i försöken att möta globaliseringen. De nordiska länderna har alla sökt bemöta utmaningarna genom reformer av utbildnings- och aktiveringspolitiken. Medan reformerna av yrkesutbildningen och arbetsmarknadspolitiken generellt inte har motverkat risken för social exkludering har däremot expansionen av utbildningssystemen tenderat att minska inkomstskillnaderna i Norden.
2014. Renate Minas. International Journal of Social Welfare 23, S40-S53Article
The fragmentation of social security systems hasemerged as a policy problem in Western Europe, result-ing in the emergence of integrated service models, forexample so-called one-stop shops. Bridging severalpolicy domains, integrated services can be assumed toaffect the institutional structure of benefits and ser-vices, such as entitlement criteria, target groups orgovernance processes. This article focuses on inte-grated service models that provide benefits and ser-vices to unemployed people who are receiving eithersocial assistance or unemployment compensation.Recent reforms in Denmark, Finland, Germany, theNetherlands, Norway and the UK are analysed fromboth an organisational and a labour market perspec-tive. The analysis shows that integrated service provi-sion entails the risk of introducing stricter workconditionality for broad and vulnerable groups withoutfulfilling the promises of seamless services.
Rescaling inequality? Welfare reform and local variation in social assistance payments
2014. Renate Minas (et al.). Social policy review 26, 239-258Chapter
Social assistance and other means tested benefits are the last resort in national social protection systems and variation in benefit receipt are in part a direct consequence of differences in means and needs. Variation may however also be related to local discretion over implementation of national legislation, implying inequality unintended by legislators. Such discretion is generally believed to have increased following decentralizing reforms in the 1990s, an international trend frequently referred to as devolution. More recent reforms have instead often implied recentralization and/or involved institutional cooperation of welfare agencies located at different vertical levels. Little is however known regarding the extent to which shifting divisions of power influences benefit receipt. Using individual level register data, multi-level modelling and a difference-in-difference approach we attempt to link changes in legislation to changes in inter-municipal differences in social assistance payments in the Nordic countries during the period 1990 to 2010. Somewhat simplified, the assumption is that the more detailed the regulation the less variation is possible and vice versa. The results show the changes in inequality in the wake of the reforms to be heterogeneous, both in accordance with and contradictory to the starting hypothesis. Although some of the unexpected results are difficult to account for, others may be explained by the character or implementation of the reforms.
Rescaling inequality? Welfare reform and local variation insocial assistance payments
2014. Renate Minas (et al.).Report
Vägar ur socialbidrag? Om socialtjänstens insatser och det ekonomiska biståndets varaktighet
2013. Åke Bergmark, Olof Bäckman, Renate Minas.Report
Decentralization and centralization
2012. Renate Minas, Sharon Wright, Rik van Berkel. International journal of sociology and social policy 32 (5/6), 286-298Article
Purpose – The purpose of this article is to examine the governance of activation in relation to the decentralization and centralization of activation for social assistance recipients in Sweden, The Netherlands and the UK.
Design/methodology/approach – This paper outlines broad trends in the governance of activation policies in Europe, focusing on processes of decentralization and centralization in Sweden (characterized by a context of shifting national and local level governance of policies, cultivated within a strong tradition of active labour market policies); The Netherlands (where there has been a deliberate shift in governance towards the local level); and the UK (typified by highly centralized decision making in policy design but local variation in delivery).
Findings – The comparison identified different paths of decentralization and examines how these processes interact and overlap with modes of centralization/coordination of policies. Finally, the paper demonstrates the interface between the modes of decentralization and centralization.
Originality/value – The investigation of vertical changes in the governance of activation in three country case studies provides an original in-depth analysis of types and paths of decentralization and centralization.
One-stop shops i Europa
2012. Renate Minas.Report
Decentralization and back to centralization
2011. Renate Minas. The governance of active welfare states in Europe, 195-215Chapter
Europas kamp mot social exkludering
2011. Renate Minas. Utanförskap, 325-349Chapter
(Re)centralizing tendencies within Health Care Services
2010. Renate Minas.Report
Decentralization has been for many years a widespread trend in health care sectors throughout Europe. Yet, more recently, a new host of reforms is observable implying an ambition of some states to regain lost control. What is the general trend of (re)centralisation about and what happens when reforms promoting (re)centralisation are translated in different national contexts; e.g. in what way contextual factors modify a general trend? The establishment of regional health authorities in Norway and regional hospital agencies in France will be used as examples to analyze the spreading and transformation of (re)centralisation.
Actors and governance arrangements in the field of social assistance
2010. Åke Bergmark, Renate Minas. Rescaling of Social Welfare Policies in Europe, 241-274Chapter
Social expenditures and public administration
2010. Renate Minas. International Journal of Social Welfare 19 (2), 215-224Article
This study examines the connection between organisational factors and local social assistance expenditures in Swedish municipalities. The organisation of social assistance units, particularly those for the intake of social assistance inquirers, and the possible implications for local social assistance costs are highlighted. The study is based on interview data from medium-sized Swedish municipalities combined with register data covering the years from 1997 to 2001. The results show that socioeconomic factors have an overall dominant effect, but also that organisational factors co-vary with local social assistance expenditures. The results show a cost-reducing effect for special intake units: firstly, when these units are analysed together with other forms of specialisation and secondly, when staff resources are taken into account. Thus, specialised intake organisation by itself does not play a cost-reducing role, but does so in combination with certain other factors that characterise the internal organisation of the social welfare office.
Sozialpolitik im europäischen Vergleich
2010. Renate Minas.Other
The territorial organization of European social assistance schemes.
2010. Renate Minas, Einar Overby. Rescaling of social welfare policies, 203-240Chapter
European Social Models, Protection and Inclusion
2009. Joakim Palme (et al.).Report
Activation in integrated servcies? Bridging social and employment services in European countries
2009. Renate Minas.Report
Arbete med ekonomiskt bistånd - exempel mottagning av nya socialbidragsklienter
2008. Renate Minas. Socialtjänsten i blickfånget: organisation, resurser och insatserChapter
Medborgarnas välfärd: decentraliserat beslutsfattande eller statlig styrning?
2008. Åke Bergmark, Renate Minas. Framtiden 4Article
Socialbidragets institutionella villkor
2008. Renate Minas. Tidsskrift for velferdsforskning (4)Article
Socialtjänsten i blickfånget: organisation, resurser och insatser
2008. Åke Bergmark (et al.).Book
Socialtjänstens individ- och familjeomsorg (IFO) är en central del av den svenska välfärdsmodellen. De insatser som förmedlas där svarar mot behov som andra trygghetssystem inte förmår möta, och till stor del handlar arbetet om att erbjuda hjälp till utsatta grupper i samhället.
Författarna har studerat tre områden inom socialtjänsten i 100 svenska kommuner: barn och ungdom, försörjningsstöd och missbruk. De försöker identifiera trender och rörelser i socialt arbete. Framför allt är det resurser och organisering som stått i centrum för intresset och hur dessa faktorer påverkar insatserna. Boken har både ett beskrivande och ett analytiskt anslag och vill fungera som utgångspunkt för diskussioner inom socialtjänsten om dess fortsatta utveckling och kopplingen till de socialpolitiska sammanhangen. Den vänder sig både till studerande vid socionomutbildningen och till yrkesverksamma inom socialtjänstens IFO.
Decentraliserad välfärd eller medborgerliga rättigheter?
2007. Åke Bergmark, Renate Minas. Socialvetenskaplig tidskrift (2-3), 220-241Article
2006. Renate Minas. International Journal of Social Welfare 15 (1), 63-74Article
Sifting the wheat from the chaff
2005. Renate Minas. European Journal of Social Work 8 (2), 145-164Article
In Sweden, the initial contact between help-seeking people and a social welfare office normally takes place over the telephone, with designated intake officers handling those aiming to apply for social assistance. Citizens seeking help are here sorted according to various eligibility criteria as well as according to different intake routines. The outcome of the sorting process is that some receive an appointment for a further assessment while others are sent away. This article describes and classifies the degree of selection at seven telephone intakes, discusses relations between the degrees of selection and reasons for selection and distinguishes several selection strategies.
local social assistance costs in Sweden, a matter of organization?